Gadgets for humans

intelliPaper adds a disposable USB drive to your business card, advertising mailer or magazine insert

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There are two scenarios which crop up in my life with an alarming frequency. The first is the age old problem surrounding business cards. Once you’ve finished chatting with a client, you want them to remember who you are and contact you in the future. However, handing over a business card often feels a bit old fashioned. No-one really knows what to do with them (unless you still use a Rolodex) and often they’re left in a drawer or eventually thrown in the bin.

The second scenario concerns file transfers. If you’re giving a colleague or a complete stranger a project, sometimes it’s quicker to avoid the cloud storage route entirely and pop it on a USB stick. These cost a fair amount of money though, and nine times out of ten you’ll never see your USB stick again. It’s that classic umbrella problem – lend someone your umbrella on a rainy day, and they’ll never give it back.

intelliPaper solves both of these problems by embedding a USB drive into an everyday piece of card. In the real world that could be your business card, an event flyer, a travel brochure, or just an incredibly small and simple tool for giving friends data.

The card above was just one of the example products sent to us by the intelliPaper team. On the other side is the usual contact details you would expect from a business card, with no way of knowing that a small silicon chip is nestled inside.

Tearing along the edge isn’t as simple as it looks. Due to the way that the card and USB drive has been sandwiched together, it’s a little tough and bends a bit before it properly separates. However, it’s a brilliant solution that just about anyone can comprehend in about two minutes flat.

A couple of folds later and the card is ready to be shoved into your PC, laptop or USB reader. It appears just like any other drive, although all the products we were sent by intelliPaper were read only. The other caveat is that at the moment, the drives only support a low amount of storage; one of the business cards we used had just 5.1 MB, which is fine for some images, text files and vCard information, but not a lot else.

However, the company’s website does add: “What’s more, in the future as versions of intelliPaper with larger memory become available, new applications for intelliPaper will be possible.”

At the time of writing, intelliPaper sits on Indiegogo with $465 of its $30,000 funding target. It’s got 20 days left, so if you’re interested in being one of the first to try out the technology, now is the best time to click on the “contribute now” button.

The intelliPaper kit also comes with a USB reader and programmer, which can be used to check the data on any of your creations without shredding it to pieces. A $20 donation will snag you one of these, with higher amounts throwing USB business cards, greeting cards or even just colored blank cards into the mix.

At the moment, intelliPaper seems like a great solution, especially if you regularly work with people who aren’t signed up to a cloud storage service like Dropbox or SugarSync. However, as our workflow increasingly becomes paperless, and also driveless (is that even a word?), it’s difficult to know just how relevant intelliPaper will be a few years down the line.

Right now though, the solution is a pretty novel and environmentally friendly evolution of the classic USB stick.

Published December 4, 2012 — 16:43 UTC