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intelliPaper reveals disposable, paper-based USB drives


December 31, 2012

With an embedded silicon chip, intelliPaper turns an ordinary strip of paper into a working USB drive

With an embedded silicon chip, intelliPaper turns an ordinary strip of paper into a working USB drive

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USB drives have become so prolific in recent years that they've become practically disposable. Now, one company has created a different type of flash drive that can literally be crumpled up and thrown in the garbage. With an embedded silicon chip, intelliPaper seamlessly turns an ordinary strip of paper into a fully functioning USB drive.

We've seen concepts for a USB stick made out of paper before, but the design team at intelliPaper has now patented technology that allows electronic components to be layered into a regular sheet of paper with USB contact points exposed. Once it's ripped from the full sheet and folded in half, the paper can be inserted into any USB port to access the files it holds, just like a typical USB drive. Files can be added and removed like any other storage device, and the drive can be reused for as long as the paper and contacts remain intact.

The paper used is about as thick as card stock, and the embedded chip can hold 8-32 MB of data – the team has not decided on a fixed capacity yet, but it will be within this range. So far, the developers have implemented their technology in mail-out flyers, promotional brochures, and business cards, among other items. Uploading data to a fresh card does require a special reader and some software to avoid damaging it, which intelliPaper offers to customers. If someone doesn't want to risk damaging the paper drive itself, intelliPaper also communicates wirelessly with any near field-enabled smartphone or tablet.

Since intelliPaper is so inexpensive to produce, it's not hard to think of plenty of uses for such a paper-based USB drive. Tourists could send out postcards with vacation photos uploaded onto them, couples could send wedding invites with a digital version attached, and schools and businesses could hand out multiple pages of documents uploaded to a single sheet of paper.

The company mostly ships intelliPaper to customers in bulk, but it is also preparing to release products aimed at individual consumers (greeting cards, note cards, and so on). The design group recently finished an Indiegogo funding campaign that was intended to speed up this process, but only raised US$6,480 of its $300,000 goal. Nevertheless, the team did manage to find a U.S. distributor and plans to release USB-enabled note cards, called "DataNotes," in mid-2013.

Check out the video below to see intelliPaper president/CEO Andrew DePaula demonstrate some of the many uses for a sheet of paper outfitted with USB capabilities.

Source: intelliPaper

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

I think this is awesome, it really is inexpensive to make the uses are far reaching and i could see these being used for all sorts of applications, especialy in retail and tourism, especialy if you can communicate to it with your smartphone.

8-32mb would be enough to store an app for a smartphone, pictures, maby video, maps.. could be used to promote music/bands loading a sample song it that could be distributed at arenas/trade shows/malls that people could just put in their smartphone or just upload it wirelessly.

Wish i had something going where i could use this, i think it has alot of value.


Has a lot of potentials. Congratulations!

Nolley Martis

I agree in that it has a lot of potential.

Perhaps an inexpensive way to send out shareware for computers.

Perhaps it could be a prize in a Cracker Jack box with games or something similar on it.

Perhaps it could contain a newsletter that is sent out from organizations that don't want to print it.


nice idea, i'll be glad when they get the storage into gigs...


Has alot of potential, combined with flexible screen technology and paintable battery cells and you could have a computer that literally feels like you are holding a laminated sheet, the number of uses from advertising to the classroom to highly portable computing solutions are nearly endless.

Combined those with a simple pen like cylinder and projection keyboard and you have an expandable pen computer.

Marc Groothedde

What a FANTASTIC invention!! I just cannot believe how this company failed (so badly) to raise the $300,000 funding that they needed to fast-track this idea. How on earth they failed to attract investors for this one product beggars belief. Had I won the Lotto last week, they would be opening an email from me tomorrow offering the entire amount!! But unfortunately I didn't, so I can't..... Sorry Mr. IntelliPaper, you'll just have to manage without me somehow. This has to be the best idea that I have seen ALL YEAR - If not longer!! I am sure that we will be seeing these paper USB's all over the place before very long. A fantastic idea with millions of applications!!

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