Introduction: How to Make a Pinky Linker

Holding hands can be weird. What's another way you can invite someone to connect?

Pinky Linkers are physical devices that allow two people who might not know each other very well to experience a physical bond. They are customized to reflect both the size of each individual's pinky as well as how close each person feels to the other.

This version of the Pinky Linkers was prototyped and tested with the Pier 9 Artist-in-Residence cohort in March 2016. Thanks to all the AIRs and Pier 9 staff that contributed data and played the linking game!

Step 1: Measure the Pinkies

First you will need to measure the pinky fingers of the people you would like to link. Pinky sizes can vary, even on the same person, so I recommend measure one person's LEFT pinky and the other person's RIGHT pinky.

While you could do this with calipers or measuring tape, it just so happens that there are handy tools especially meant for measuring ring size. Some of them consist of strips of paper that you can print out to make a measuring tool.

I used this one:

But you can also just search for "printable ring sizing tool" and see what comes up.

Ultimately you want to translate the ring size for both pinkies back into the diameter measurement in millimeters. We'll be using these numbers soon...

Step 2: Quantify Your Relationship

Next you need to ask yourself: What is my relationship to the person to whom I'd like to link? And how can I represent this with a number?

You may know this right off the bat. If you don't, you could try one of the following:

    1. Take some time for self-reflection. Think about the experiences you've had with this person as well as your own feelings so that you can learn more about your relationship to them.
    2. Have a conversation with them. You don't necessarily need to figure this out on your own. They may have some ideas as well and sometimes it helps to just talk it out!
    3. Conduct a very non-scientific survey to generate some ambiguous but actionable results.

    I did #3. In my survey I asked a group of my colleagues to rate how well they knew each other. You can see my survey in the photo above.

    I used a scale of 1 to 5 to determine the perceived "distance" between people. The participants were asked to mark the person they knew best in the group as a "1", the person they knew least as a "5", and to position everyone else in between.

    This was a relative 5-point scale. If you'd like to create your own scale, here are some possible categories you could place on the spectrum:

    • soulmate
    • occasional lover
    • best friend
    • drinking buddy
    • colleague
    • random stranger
    • nemesis

    Then I compiled the results into a spreadsheet. Finally, because I was making multiple Pinky Linkers in order to connect the group in a circle I pulled names randomly to determine who would be connected to whom.

    If you are just going to connect two people, you don't need such a complex process. Just have each person rate how well they know each other on a scale of 1 to 5.

    Step 3: Adjust the 3D Model

    You should now have 4 pieces of data:

    • diameter of Person A's left pinky (in mm)
    • diameter of Person B's right pinky(in mm)
    • how well Person A knows Person B (scale of 1 to 5)
    • how well Person B knows Person A (scale of 1 to 5)

    Now you are ready to customize your 3D model!

    Download and install Fusion 360:

    Download the 3D model and open it in Fusion 360:

    In the ribbon at the top of the screen go to Modify -> Change Parameters. This will open up the user parameters.

    Use the data you collected to modify the following parameters:

    • diameterLeft -diameter of Person A's left pinky (in mm)
    • diameterRight - diameter of Person B's right pinky(in mm)
    • distanceLeft - how well Person A knows Person B (scale of 1 to 5)
    • distanceRight - how well Person B knows Person A (scale of 1 to 5)

    What's nice about the resulting model is that it reflects how both people feel about each other.

    The other parameters do not require adjustment, however you can play with them if you'd like to adjust the ring thickness, height, fillet, etc.

    Once you are done, right click Body 1 and save as an STL.

    Step 4: Print the 3D Model

    Import your STL into whatever software you use with your local 3D printer. Take the necessary steps to print out your design. Because this simple design is very vertical it will need little or no support material.

    Step 5: Link Pinkies

    Have Person A insert their left pinky into the appropriate ring. Have Person B insert their pinky into the remaining ring. The pinkies are now linked!

    Step 6: Share a Pinkie Linked Adventure!

    The next time you are hanging out or out and about with your designated pinky person, use the Pinky Linker to link your pinkies. Even the most mundane events can become adventures when you are Pinky Linked!