LAS VEGAS--The paperless office is a utopian dream. We're still surrounded by mountains of paper, especially organizationally challenged people like yours truly.
Enter the iMD Smart Filing System, a rather charming blend of analog and digital tech. Shown off at CES 2013 by the unheralded iMicroData, it lets you find an individual paper folder and its contents in old-school filing cabinets.
If you've lost your birth certificate, for instance, you just look it up on the app that comes with the system, and it'll tell you what drawer to look in.
It's almost as simple as completely analog filing cabinets, but you don't have to use your brain all that much.
The drawer unlocks automatically while its LED blinks. You open the drawer, and look for the blinking folder. There's your birth certificate.
These electronic cabinets may sound like a solution in search of a problem, but many companies and doctors' offices, for example, have heaps of paper files and have stubbornly resisted that whole IT-revolution thing.
"Many people lose folders and get into big trouble," says inventor and iMicroData CTO Sam Zhu, who has been working on the system for years.
It has a few more advantages. With all folders mapped electronically, you don't have to label them or even label drawers. That's a security feature that would prevent would-be thieves from finding and stealing sensitive info.
Then again, if the app crashes and you lose your digital index, you're in deep doo-doo. It worked very smoothly at CES, though.
The system can also automatically map the new location of a folder if you put it into a different drawer. It logs all searches, retrievals, and returns, and can electronically lock drawers.
Users can search up to 100,000 folders for missing or checked-out folders, something that would take about 10 seconds. The archive can track up to 4 billion physical folders.
That sounds big enough to store all the crumpled-up old receipts under my bed.
The iMD Smart Filing System is available at $2,000 for the master electronic filing cabinet, with all other linked cabinets at $1,500 apiece.
The company hasn't sold any units yet, but as long as there are paper pack rats it could get lucky.