A music teacher from Riverside Illinois has come up with a flash drive design that's more novel than novelty. Possibly one of the most portable instrument around - the harmonica - and the most portable digital storage solution have been merged into one to produce the FlashHarp.

"Flash drives and harmonicas have a lot in common," muses Jim McLean, inventor of the FlashHarp. The harmonica is extremely portable and relatively easy to use (although mastering it can take years). Likewise the Flash drive "has found its place in the pocket of modern rovers", allowing users to carry volumes of information, media and memories with them wherever they go. Both come together in the shape of the FlashHarp.

The FlashHarp is a fully functional 3.25 inch, 10 hole harmonica made from stainless steel cover plates, brass reeds and reed plates and a plastic comb, just like the ones used by modern professionals. At one end protrudes the USB connection of the flash drive, which is covered by a cap when not plugged into a PC, Mac or laptop. Further protection is provided courtesy of a sturdy plastic case for storage.

It's currently available in two digital storage sizes - 2Gb and 4Gb - and a number of options. With the Plug n Play option a full-size, 10 hole harmonica is also thrown in along with a ten minute Quicktime instructional video where McLean from Riverside Illinois, known as the Backyard Harmonica Teacher, shares some of his playing tips.

It's unclear if the FlashHarp is available is keys other than C (as shown in the Gallery examples) but for folks who want to carry their photos, videos and music and create their own sounds too, this would seem to be an ideal solution. Perhaps it would have been better to have the USB connector retract into the body instead of poking out of one end for improved comfort while playing but it's still a nice design.

Prices start at USD$45, details from Backyard Brand's website.

The video below shows Jim McLean demonstrating his invention: