Staying in touch with someone who doesn't often use tech can be hard. Especially if it's someone you care about, but don't live close to.
One solution is MemoBird from Knectek Labs, which was demoed at CES 2018. Available since November 2017 in the US (and coming to the UK in March), it's a simple and compact printer that connects to Wi-Fi and costs $79 (or about £60 and AU$103, converted). Though it looks like an adorable receipt printer, it prints out personal messages instead of transactions.
The printer works with a separate phone app that's compatible with Apple iOS and Google Android. In the app, you can write handwritten notes, type out a message or take a quick photo. Once you send them off, the printer will print them out remotely -- your phone doesn't need to be near the printer to send and receive the messages.
When I first saw the device, I was curious about its use cases. Why would anyone need this if texting, messaging apps and email exist? But there is something to be said about going to extra mile and sending something a little bit more special, like when you're in a long distance relationship or friendship.
The fact that the printer stays on when plugged in and doesn't require the recipient to physically be there to print out messages is also useful when you want to stay in touch with someone who may be busy or off the grid.
But the most compelling reason relates to elderly care and quality of life. Many studies show that an active social life and staying in touch with loved ones improves mental health, at any age. With older relatives, however, like your parents who are in their golden years, you may want an additional form of communication that doesn't require sending texts and having them peck a message right back.
Think of it like telegrams for the modern age. Memobird's app can be downloaded by several family members. As grandparents go about their day, they can receive messages on their desk from the entire family who live in different cities. You can send them daily reminders, a message to say hi, or a snap a quick photo of their grandkids at the park.
Because the printer uses thermal paper, you don't have to keep buying ink. Just swap out the paper when it runs out. Three rolls of paper cost $10 (£8 and AU$13, converted).
Knectek Labs is also launching a more office-friendly device called Cubinote, which uses the same idea, but it prints out messages on large, colorful sticky notes. It's aimed for more professional environments and costs $149 (£113 and AU$195, converted). Cubinote will be available in the US starting March, with a planned roll out in the UK for later in July.
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