Hands-on: intelliPaper redefines the disposable world of USB drives

hands on intellipaper redefines the disposable world of usb drives

Last I counted, there are at least 15 USB flash drives scattered across my desk. We get them when public relations companies send over review units, at press events, or as swag at industry parties. If USB flash drives became currency one day, technology journalists would be the richest people in the world.

But they’re not. Flash drives are a way for PR companies to consolidate information into a compact package so we can pay attention as we try a new product, instead of taking spec notes. Unfortunately, after the article is said and done, the USB drive goes back into a drawer where many of its cousins reside, never to be touched again. It’s a waste of plastic and perfectly good technology.

To combat this uneconomical practice, Andrew DePaula and team have invented the intelliPaper. At first glance, it looks like your average cardboard paper with silver prints at the end. But tear this perforated edge out and stick it into your computer’s USB slot and you have a functioning, flash drive. It’s an ingenius response to the increasing use of USB technology in a recyclable, disposable way. And in turn, we no longer have to feel guilty for hoarding little plastic drives.

hands on intellipaper redefines the disposable world of usb drives booklet

The intelliPaper team sent over a press kit to visualize how practical paper USBs can be. In it, we find a university pamphlet with a detachable intelliPaper strip at the bottom for more information, a postcard, and a few business cards. There’s also a stone-shaped reader that connects to your computer via mini USB cord if you’re uncomfortable with jamming a cardboard strip into your drive. These sample applications allow companies to provide additional information without the bulk and waste of plastic, and customize them in a practical and effective manner.

hands on intellipaper redefines the disposable world of usb drives strip“We’ve been selling the product to a handful of companies since April. These are real projects that companies paid us to do,” DePaula tells us. “Right now, the samples are read-only, but there’s no reason anyone like yourself can’t get them and do whatever you want.”

With his Indiegogo project freshly launched, he aims to create a version where people can write their own files to the drives and print them on pamphlets or business cards of their choice.

hands on intellipaper redefines the disposable world of usb drives comparisonThe secret to intelliPaper’s design is to strip a traditional USB drive to its core. DePaula did away with the bulky plastic housing and embedded the same silicon flash memory in the paper, thus creating a paper-thin USB drive.

In our initial use, we found intelliPaper quite intuitive. For disposable, one-time-use purposes, intelliPaper is an excellent way to curb manufacturing costs on drives. Not that there is a mobility issue with USB drives, but flattening it to the thinness of paper also makes it mailable in a regular envelope. Why is this important? Let’s be frank: People are curious. Even if you don’t care about the info kit that was sent to your house, if it comes with a paper USB, you’d at least want to stick it in your computer and see what’s up. From a business card standpoint, this is also a unique way to program your portfolio, website shortcut, or resume into the intelliPaper strip instead of where QR codes may currently be.

hands on intellipaper redefines the disposable world of usb drives reader

That’s not to say intelliPaper doesn’t have some problems left to resolve. In rare instances, intelliPaper managed to instantly boot me off my computer upon USB insertion – a problem DePaula guesstimates to be my MacBook’s older version of Mountain Lion. He also notes that my case is the first he’s ever heard of intelliPaper’s bugs, and the team is working hard to resolve any possible glitches. “There’s some [Mac] update that makes our product not work. It just doesn’t show up on your screen even though the system hardware shows it recognizes the flash drive,” he says. “We’ve made some changes to keep the product up to date, though why it didn’t work in the first place is still a mystery.”

One could argue that all this could be resolved if we just resorted to Web addresses. But the truth of the matter is, USB drives – outside of their storage utility – have become a way for companies to advertise and reach new audiences. Although the drives are still somewhat expensive at the Indiegogo funding of $100 for ten 8-32MB drives, like any new product, the price should go down with scale. The possibilities seem infinite. When those days come, the only plastic USB drives I’ll own are the ones I actually want, use, and need.

Product Review

Powerbeats3 wireless headphones are all about that bass, and not much else

With the new Powerbeats Pro grabbing headlines, it’s worth taking a look back at Beats’ previous flagship wireless earbuds. Do these popular, bass-happy workout buds still deserve your consideration?

Time to upgrade your storage? Here are the best SSDs you can buy right now

Solid state drives provide superior speed and more affordable than ever. Interested in buying one? We've found the top drives that range from $100 to $1,000 in price, so you can get the most bang for your buck.

Amazon drops deals on Razer, Netgear, and Western Digital PC accessories

Grab these deals while you can: As part of their Deal of the Day promotion, Amazon is offering deep discounts on a wide variety of PC accessories including premium gaming mice, external hard drives, and even Wi-Fi routers.

The best MP3 players of 2018 cram tons of music into a small package

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? Don't sweat it. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? No worries. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.

From simple work tools to high-end gaming peripherals, these are the best mice

If you're looking to buy the best mouse for you, whether it's for gaming or work, we have something for you. We've put together a list of our favorite mice, all of which have great features and sell at a great price.

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…

Leaked memo: If your MacBook keyboard dies, Apple will fix or replace in one day

If your Apple MacBook keyboard is problematic, getting it fixed at a Genius Bar just got a lot easier. Apple has now mandated that its Geniuses repair or replace MacBook keyboards by the next working day.

WWDC 2019 Complete Coverage

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is a key tech event each year, and for Apple fans, it will be one of the two best times of 2019 (along with "new iPhone day," of course). For the last few years, Apple has debuted much of its…

AMD's upcoming Navi graphics cards are incoming. Here's what to expect

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles like Sony's PlayStation 5.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

Working hard or hardly working? Do it right with these versatile PC desks

Looking for a new piece of furniture that will fit in your office, dorm, or gaming cave? Here are some of our favorite computer desks on the market, whether you're a serious gamer looking for an upgrade, or just moved into a new space.

Boost your PCs power by learning how to overclock your CPU

Is your PC just chugging along, a little slower than you'd like? Sometimes you just need a little more power under the hood. Before you pick up some new hardware, learn how to overclock your CPU.

In 2019, laptops are better than ever. Here are the best of the best

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. Our picks for the best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while they're at it.

USB drive issue blocks some PCs from receiving Windows 10 May 2019 update

A USB drive error resulted in some PCs being blocked from receiving the Windows 10 May 2019 update. Microsoft decided to block eligible PCs with USB drives or SD cards attached from getting the update until the error is fixed.