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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Computing

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Computing

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

The rumors were true. Nvidia’s 1660 Ti GPU, a $280 powerhouse, has arrived

Nvidia has officially launched the GTX 1660 Ti, its next-generation, Turing-based GPU. It promises to deliver all the performance and efficiency for all modern games, but without stepping into the high price range of the RTX series. 
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Everything you need to know about routers, modems, combos, and mesh networks

Modem vs. router: what's the difference? We explain their functions so you can better diagnose any issues prior to contacting technical support. We also talk about a few variants you'll see offered by ISPs and retailers.
Computing

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 
Computing

Limited-time sale knocks $500 off the price of the Razer Blade Pro 17

Looking for an ultra-powerful laptop for yourself or someone else? You're in for some luck. Razer is running a sale on some of its best gaming laptops, cutting down pricing on the Razer Blade 15 and the Razer Blade Pro 17. 
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.
Gaming

Want to play as Iron Man or Waluigi in GTA V? Our favorite mods make it possible

Grand Theft Auto V is best on the PC for many reasons, and modifications may be the most important. You can cause riots, spawn unique cars, and play as a cop with just a few extra files.
Computing

Does the GTX 1660 Ti's leaner design make it a better GPU than the RTX 2060?

Nvidia's GTX 1660 Ti is a new Turing GPU without ray tracing or DLSS, but how does it compare to its RTX brethren? We pit the 1660 Ti versus the RTX 2060 to find out in this comparison.