A Printer that Walks on Paper

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Most gadgets have gone mobile, giving us the flexibility to telecommute or work on the go. However, there is one device that missed the flight – the Printer! It is no wonder that while we can work from any part of the world that offers Internet connectivity, we most often than not struggle to find a printer.

This was a problem that a student of Jerusalem College of Technology – Tuvia Elbaum – often faced. Fed up, Elbaum teamed up with Matan Caspi and a team of young researchers at the university to invent what will be the world’s first sleek and easily portable printer that walks on paper!

The team conceptualized the Mini Mobile Robotic Printer in March 2013 and has made it easy and fun to use, as small as a palm that can carried along anywhere, and can print from any device onto any sized page. Designed by Zuta Labs and slated to be available in the shelves from September this year, the Mini Mobile Robotic Printer measures 10X11.5 cm and weighs only 300 grams. Could the mobile era ask for more?!

Thinking pocket printer? This is different

Most pocket-sized printers like the LG Pocket Photo series or mobile picture printers are simply concise versions of printers on desks, where paper needs to be fed conventionally. However, this new Pocket Printer robot, which may look like a small car freshener, may liven things up in the printing industry. Instead of using an old-fashioned paper feed, the printer itself runs over the page laying grayscale ink.

So when you need to print a document, place the robotic printer at the top left corner of the paper. Using intelligent software and sophisticated motor system, the mini mobile roams across the piece of paper on two sets of bi-directional wheels, placing ink wherever required. For multi-page documents, you can simply pick and place the Mini Mobile on a fresh piece of paper.

The patent world has so far held significant assets related to wireless and portable printers (Patents EP1638258, US8823494, US20140094124, US8477357, US8767229, CN203198423, US8075207, etc), compact printers (Patents US3944724, US7150523, US6712452, US6416160, etc) and hand-held printers (Patents US5927872, US7876472, US8125678, US8092006, etc ). Key patent asset holders in this domain include Lexmark, Epson, Ricoh, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Texas Instruments, Logitech, etc. However, none of these patents disclose a simplistic pocket printer as the Mini Mobile Robotic Printer.

The mobile version

While the printer will recognize your PC or Mac device like conventional printers, Zuta Labs plans to roll out Android and iOS compatible applications for printing from a mobile using wifi or Bluetooth technology. These mobile apps can also keep track of ink levels, battery life, and create custom print jobs.

The printer employs an inkjet (currently only black and white) and uses a high-resolution optical sensor that is commonly used in high-end mice. It comes with a rechargeable battery that runs for an hour on full battery. It employs an omni-wheel system that allows it to accurately move around the page. It prints at a speed of 1.2 pages per minute and the current prototype can reach up to 96 x 192 dpi, although the final product is expected to provide a higher resolution.

Fresh off a successful kickstarter campaign in May, Zuta Labs is now working on creating a faster, smaller device with higher quality output. When it launches, the Mini Mobile will wirelessly support Android, iOS, Windows, OS X, and Linux, enabling a user to print from almost everything. A single inkjet cartridge will last for more than 1,000 pages, and is expected to print about 60 pages per charge.

Zuta Labs hopes that the market version of this printer will churn out an A4 page of grayscale text or images in 45 seconds. And while this version is gearing up for commercial production, the next series is likely to include color printing and the ability to print on more materials than just paper.

The groundbreaking invention has already won 2015 International CES® Best of Innovation Award (organized by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®) in the Computer Accessories category, and is soon to make waves around the world! Can we say then that the future of printing is finally here!

(Featured image source: http://f.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/620×350/poster/2014/04/3028954-poster-p-roomba-printer.gif)

Subhasri Das
Subhasri Das

Subhasri is a technocrat who enjoys reading between the lines of patents to understand their hidden value.


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