AI: Little Printer

Today I saw this at Creative Review. BERG Cloud is promoting their Little Printer and it’s set to launch in 2012. My very first thought was, “Hmm, might be a good Quickie entry”… and my immediate second thought was “no way”.

Let’s break it down.

Happy Mac, the early Macintosh start-up icon.

When I first saw the simply drawn face, I thought of the Happy Mac icon. But I wondered if Berg wanted us to identify Little Printer with our positive experiences with Apple. And I just wasn’t having it. I only made the association because I felt I was forced. And, to be honest, I resented it.

The face is cute or twee, depending on your mood. The printer is teensy. Which means the printout is receipt-size. And, chances are, anyone reading this has a life online that can’t be forwarded in teeny paper printouts unless maybe fifteen of these things are running 24 hours a day.

We had a small conversation about this at the Lab, and while we are all about the necessity for and love of the tactile art experience, the increasing love for and need for the handmade, we’re not so sure that blending this hi-fi and lo-fi is any kind of answer to anything.

Frankly, I just don’t get it. It looks like they’ve thrown a ton of money at it. If I found out they were goofing on us, I wouldn’t be surprised. Oh, and I can’t seem to find out how much they’re asking for it. That doesn’t make it eco-responsible, but it might play a part in what could be a popular novelty.

Watch the video below and then maybe you can answer the following questions about the need for a bite-size social media newspaper ticker-tape thing.

Little Printer: Wave of the future? Or dead in the water?



Geologic Universe, vault-keeper. Sheer Brick Studio, principal. Empty Set, designer. Bethlehem Mounties, media. WDIY 88.1FM NPR station programmer. Skepchick.

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  1. Wow. Unless I misunderstand, this thing is a solution in desperate need of a problem to solve.

    Quote from the original article:

    … people will undoubtedly flag up the question of paper wastage. But, having said that, paper still holds a huge place in our lives; as Berg puts it: “Paper is like a screen that never turns off. You can stick it to the fridge or tuck it in your wallet. You can scribble on it, or tear it and give it to a friend.”

    Excellent points about the attraction of paper. But approximately 99.99% of what I read online I have no desire to stick to the wall or scribble on. And as for giving to a friend, there are about a dozen ways to share URLs that actually involve less effort than arranging a face-to-face meeting in order to hand over a piece of paper).

    Of course there is that 0.01% of the time when I actually wouldn’t mind having a paper copy of something I’ve read. Of course there’s no easy way for a machine to know which ones those will be ahead of time, so I would need to manually select them. A peripheral that did that might be useful. The nice thing about doing it that way is that since it would only be printing what I explicitly requested, they could drop that tiny ticker-tape roll and just use full-sized paper. Of course it wouldn’t be a “little” printer any more, so they’d have to change the name. “Big Printer” doesn’t sound like it would sell, though … Maybe they could just call it a “Printer”? I bet people would buy that!

  2. I saw this on Slog yesterday, and my impression is that it’s playing on nostalgia for things like Polaroid cameras. It’s definitely not a solution for anything (and the creator’s comment that “paper is like a screen that never turns off” really rubs me the wrong way). I’m not inclined to criticize it in a big way for eco-unfriendliness either, though, as I don’t see most people using it frequently or for long enough to waste too much paper. My guess is that it’ll be a short-lived novelty.

  3. “Little Printer: Wave of the future? Or dead in the water?”

    False dichotomy, how about niche market? I own a bicycle store where we (by which I mean my wife and I) use barcodes printed on stickers for items that don’t come with one on the packaging. This makes stock control much, much easier.

    Items specialy ordered, and this happens a great deal because we’re a small shop in a rural area, don’t require a sticker because their never going to be out on the shelf. I’m constantly choosing between writing out long strings of digits to be entered manually when the customer picks up their order or printing a barcode on a A4 sheet of paper and cutting it out. I tried to use the same cut up sheet each time but it jammed the printer more often than not. And to make matters worse, my handwriting is terrible. Many times I’ve ended up not being able to read the code that I wrote.

    Another thing I’m doing regularly is writing down the breakdown of payment types I have in the till to do the cash out. Again, it’s a waste of paper to print it out on A4.

    I’d get one of these if they’re not too expensive, it would be quite useful to me.

    Mind you, one big downside to it is the printing method. It’s obviously a thermal printer like the ones used for customer dockets. You couldn’t use this for anything you wanted to keep for an indefinite period of time. Thermal paper fades to black or brown and becomes illegible over time.

  4. Annnnnd, having actually read about the thing now, (bad skeptic, no treats for you) I realize it wouldn’t work for me. It connects to your device via its own wireless internet widget and my shop devours mobile phone signals. Seriously, I’m a bit worried about what it’s doing with all that energy. I fully expect to come to work one day and find that it’s given birth to a tricycle shop.

    I’m going to have to look around for something similar that connects directly to my computer. A docket printer that allows you to print anything would be really useful.

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