Little Printer is a wireless, terminal printer for the home. Small enough for a bookshelf, it produces receipt-sized personalised magazines by collating information from a variety of social media, news and web sources. Designed and built by the London-based design studio BERG, it should launch sometime in 2012. Little Printer is backed up by another new product called BERGCloud that enables you to control what goes onto your print-outs. In addition it allows 3rd-party services to plug in to the service so you can add their content to your print-outs as well. The Guardian, ARUP, Google and Foursquare – among other services – are all signed up as launch partners. Ever since I ran across Little Printer a few months ago I’ve been excited about it. I like the idea of having small, information-dense reports of the day’s headlines, my to-do lists, appointments and so forth automatically generated for me. And I would like to have Little Printer on my desk or shelf: it is a beautifully designed piece of hardware.
There are of course a few questions about Little Printer. For starters, just how useful could a personalised receipt printer be? It will be cool, undoubtedly, and a talking point but will function arrive with form? And why not just consume the information on the computer, tablet or smartphone that you undoubtedly own anyways, as these have more available information and was used to set-up Little Printer in the first place?
But here’s the thing: Little Printer’s strength stems from not being one of those devices and not having limitless information available to the user. I’ve always found that these always-on, always-connected devices are a hideous risk from the time-management point of view. There is always something else you can do, new tweets and different articles to read, and websites to endlessly refresh. More dangerous still is the feeling that somewhere in the wilds of the World Wide Web there is a piece of content of the most mind-shattering interest and importance. All of this is taken care of with Little Printer. You only have what is on your print-out. So you can consume it and move on. I like the sound of that.
I also like the idea of working with paper. I own a smartphone and tablet and always carry at least the phone but I still prefer to use a notebook and pen for my todo lists, notes and ideas.* I am intrigued and excited about the idea of easily moving personalized content from the digital to the physical world.
Of course, Little Printer might end up being little more than a novelty with limited functionality in the real world (or worse, vapourware). You can see Little Printer in action here.
I see potential in this device and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
*There is one exception to my paper over digital rule. Realmac Software recently launched an iPhone app called Clear (http://www.realmacsoftware.com/clear/). This is by far the most elegant and easy to use to do list app I’ve ever used on my iPhone. Simple and actually useful. Also, from a UI/UX standpoint it has some truly novel, and functional, ideas about interacting with a touchscreen. If you’re an iPhone user, check it out.
(images via bergcloud.com)