The following is a list of questions we’ve been asked about intelliPaper, along with our best shot at answering them. We don’t claim to know it all, but we do think you might find our thoughts useful.
A paper USB drive sounds fine until I accidentally run it through the washing machine and then think it’s lint and throw it away. How would that work as a real drive?
intelliPaper® USB drives are made to be disposable. They’re produced to be used as long as the paper and USB contacts last. If by some chance you wash your drive, you’re not out $10 or $25 or $40 as you would be if you ruined a standard USB drive. Just pull out another one and be more careful next time…
Why a disposable USB drive instead of a real drive?
When was the last time someone handed you their thumb drive to keep because their business card information was on it and they wanted you to be able to download their vCard and click through to their website as well as have a paper card? When was the last time a student handed a professor a standard USB drive to keep because the term paper or thesis was stored on it and the professor wanted to be able to edit?
Disposable drives enable consumers to communicate information like websites, contact information, or e-cards quickly and inexpensively, in a way that lets the receiver keep and use the information later. A disposable drive gives you the ability to transfer data to someone as you would do with a standard USB drive, but at a much lower cost. And with intelliPaper’s new wireless functionality, your data’s transferability will be even greater.
How is this technical innovation relevant in an environment that is rapidly becoming paperless?
We have been promised a paperless society for more than 30 years, yet paper is still very much in use. The reason is that humans are analog, not digital. Paper is an analog medium. Ultimately we see the path between analog print and the digital world as a smooth roadway that’s made easy by inexpensive products everyone is already used to. Some of the technology we have in the hopper is pretty incredible, and this current product is just the beginning.
The barriers to exchanging information are many, and intelliPaper seeks to lower those barriers. Right now, data either lives in analog form in ink on paper, or it is digital. There are only a few technologies that try to blur the two (like E Ink displays or the Kindle® or iPad®), but they are niche markets, and because of cost, size and other factors, they will not gain the universal usage that paper already has.
How does intelliPaper compare to services like Dropbox?
Take the real-world example I (Andrew) have personally experienced of trying to get a file to someone who doesn’t have a Dropbox account (and perhaps may not know what Dropbox is). First I have to explain the whole process. Then, I have to get their email address (if they’re willing to give it to me), put the files in a Dropbox folder, and email a link to them. The other person then has to go to their email, click the link, and walk through a potentially unfamiliar set of screens to retrieve and download the files I put in the cloud. They could get confused along the way because Dropbox encourages new users to install software and sign up for an account. I’ve had several people call me, rather annoyed, to ask if they really need to jump through all these hoops (install software) just to get a few files. I explained that it wasn’t necessary, but as you can see, this just adds to the complexity and frustration of the exercise. I could have emailed the file(s), but that also presumes I have an email address for the recipient and it comes with its own set of issues and potential frustration points.
Contrast all of this with simply handing someone a piece of intelliPaper, saying, “Here are your files.”
Dropbox’s market is a subset of those involved with technology—they’re daily, highly literate users of computers and network-connected mobile devices. intelliPaper’s® market includes those people, but also includes everyone else—even people who only have access to computing resources on a limited basis.
ITU (International Telecommunications Union) data suggests that in the U.S. alone, 152 million people have a computer in the home. Most of the rest at least have access to a computer somewhere. If our marketing is done right, all of those people are potentially regular users of intelliPaper products. For most, this will not involve learning anything new or even changing what they already do.
The information on the paper device could become dated almost immediately after it was produced. Websites are always up-to-date.
While it is true that the information on a website can be updated frequently, the fact remains that the bar to accessing that information is lower with an intelliPaper product. A printed website address assumes the same access to a computer as a disposable USB drive, and additionally assumes that the person will go to the trouble of entering it correctly and navigating successfully to the right place on the website.
intelliPaper® makes some information available immediately without the Internet and has the ability to direct the individual to a specific location without any further action or input on their part.
What if a person receiving an intelliPaper product has an older computer that may not read it properly—in a Third World country, for example?
USB technology, first introduced in 1995, is in its third generation now. It is everywhere within the installed computer base globally. It is very unlikely that computers currently in use anywhere would not have the necessary hardware/software to read the device.
Isn’t it harder to use intelliPaper than to just type in a web address?
On the contrary, intelliPaper is about lowering the barriers to accessing information. It’s much easier to expect a marginally computer-literate person to insert a piece of intelliPaper and be taken directly where they need to go than to hope they type in a web address correctly and navigate to an exact page.
Mass-market mailings (direct mail) are decreasing because they cost more than electronic ads. intelliPaper makes this even more expensive to produce.
By way of example, non-profit charitable giving still relies heavily on direct mail, with nonprofit organizations still currently generating 65 to 95 percent of their income via direct mail. Response statistics for direct mail traditionally fall between 1.5 and 4.5 percent, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Preliminary data suggests that technologies like intelliPaper can achieve response rates of up to 30%.
Direct mail is still reported as one of the leading media choices of advertisers. While U.S.P.S. data shows a decline in direct mail from prior years, that decline is attributed to the steep economic downturn. Though direct mail is not our largest target market, companies in that space should be very interested in intelliPaper products because their unique features enable companies to greatly increase response rates. intelliPaper® is a clear value proposition for companies seeking to use tangible printed materials to elicit responses from more individuals.
How is intelliPaper better than a printed QR code?
QR (Quick Response) codes typically encode a URL, which a person can access by scanning the QR symbol with a compatible device (usually a smartphone). QR codes illustrate the attempts being made in technology to bridge the digital with the analog.
While a QR code accomplishes one of the functions intelliPaper can perform (taking someone to a website), that’s all it can do. There’s no local storage of data or availability of anything without an Internet connection and a scanner. Furthermore, because a QR code is only print, it’s not as easy to customize it and target specific individuals or groups of individuals. With intelliPaper, there are a number of ways (similar to doing a mail merge) to efficiently and quickly code intelliPaper pieces to specific individuals. There is also much more flexibility, because the data is stored internally as digital bits and can be changed under the right circumstances without requiring reprinting. Frankly, for marketing purposes, we believe you should use it all. Your cards should be made out of wireless intelliPaper and can incorporate a printed QR code for good measure.
Isn’t the trend toward providing information exclusively online now? For example, owner’s manuals are more often than not only available online. No printed manual is provided with some devices any longer.
This is true, but there is no substitute for the tangible. Why was software sold in huge empty boxes for so long? With intelliPaper you have the best of both worlds: inexpensive local information, available right now (no Internet required), and a direct link to the specific additional information you would be likely to want online. Besides, what happens to your online manual when the Internet is down?
With the trend toward smartphones and pad devices, fewer people are willing to wait until they can sit down at a computer to get information. They want it now. This device requires them to take the paper to a computer, fold it, insert it and then hope that their computer reads it properly. How is that progress?
There is no substitute for the tangible. iPad-like devices are proof of that. A genuinely paperless society would require a major shift that people aren’t ready for yet. Some people may be too well connected with technology to make regular use of intelliPaper, but this is not currently a significant enough segment of society to be a problem. Given our technology road map, which embraces wireless connectivity, people can have their cake and eat it too, with whatever device they have handy.