Decoding Design

Little Printer is the analog assistant you didn't know you wanted

Little Printer is the analog assistant you didn't know you wanted

Posting in Design

Maybe print isn't dead, yet. The Little Printer from design studio BERG might just make you yearn for more paper in your life.

Siri, the iPhone's embedded assistant, might help you find the nearest coffee shop, but she's never going to produce anything you can't figure out on your own (plus, she's apparently political, which could be rather off-putting).

But Little Printer, now there's a pal. This diminutive valet is the brainchild of BERG, a London-based design studio that made a splash with a comic book printed with hidden ink. But unlike hidden ink or pixels on a screen, the printer's product is tactile.

Little Printer is also precious and hard not to love, a testament to the power of clever design.

The pint-sized printer is designed to periodically generate curated content based on the user's preferences and from a handful of content partners that BERG is working with, including The Guardian newspaper, Foursquare and Nike. So on a given day, the user might use the device to call up a favorite news column (or horoscope, or stock index, etc., etc.), and a list of where Foursquare buddies last checked in and a stats record of her most recent run, recorded on the Nike+ training sensor and sent to the printer via the her cell phone.

The printer, which produces a small format, black and white thermal print-out (like a receipt), is actually part of a larger platform BERG is announcing called BERG Cloud, which, as it sounds, is a cloud-based system that links web-based devices within the user's home.

In fact, while buying a printer might seem like a decidedly retro maneuver, the BERG Cloud concept is a future-looking one because it doesn't require a home computer to operate. Little Printer comes with a small controller box that connects to the home's broadband link and networks the web-based devices already in the home, such as the user's smart phone.

And the phone, serving as a remote control, is how users will interact with and configure the printer.

As Matt Webb, BERG's CEO, told Fast Company's Co Design, using paper as a medium will help consumers weed through fire hose of digital media that spews stuff they don't really care about (status updates ad nauseum) and print out only the things they want to read on a daily basis.

Aside from all this, there's the romantic appeal of a printed message -- especially if the message is, in fact, romantic -- and the fact that paper lets you work on a crossword or catch up on headlines during a subway ride, without worrying about dead batteries or cell signals.

It might just be a passing fancy. But the fact that a company is taking a step back (or forward?) toward print is a sign that perhaps the ease and ubiquity digital aids might have started to lose their appeal.

[via Co Design]

Image: BERG

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure