Robotic Pocket Printer sits in the palm of your hand

Why limit yourself by feeding paper into a printer, if you can just drop the printer on the paper instead? A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funds for a little robot that prints 1 page per minute.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

With this device, the paper doesn't go through the printer, the printer rolls around on the paper. Zuta Labs

Computers keep getting smaller and sleeker, but printers, not so much. There's been a fundamental flaw in the thinking about printers that's kept them from becoming truly mobile: till now, they've operated on the idea that you have to feed a sheet of paper through them. Normally, this means the device has to be at least 8.5 inches wide.

Students from the Jerusalem College of Technology have flipped that notion on its head by creating a supersmall printer that sits on top of the paper and rolls around using inkjet technology to create words and images -- no matter how big the page or what device you're printing from. They've fittingly called their device the Pocket Printer, and they're seeking to raise $400,000 to bring their idea to life through a just-launched Kickstarter campaign.

"We looked at printers today, and we saw big bulky boxes with the printhead inside moving from left to right," said Zuta Labs designer Jonathan Stein in the video about the project posted on Kickstarter. "Then we thought, 'Why not just take the printer out, and put it on a robot?'"

The pocket printer will hold a cartridge of ink that the makers claim will produce 1,000 pages, and it will have a lithium polymer battery that charges through a Micro-USB cable and powers the device for up to 1 hour. It receives data via Bluetooth, so if someone sends you an important PDF on your phone while you're out at Starbucks, you can just plonk the printer down on a piece of paper, beam it the document, and away it will go.

In the video below that shows the prototype at work, it looks like it moves kind of slowly, but the team at Zuta Labs (the name of the company the students created to produce the printer) says the real device will print a page per minute.

At the moment, Zuta Labs is offering an early-bird special that lets you snag a Pocket Printer in Mars Black for $180. The price goes up to $200 after those are gone, and a Titanium White printer is also $200. Considering that the Micro 3D printer recently reached its $50,000 Kickstarter goal 11 minutes after launching and ran out of $199 early bird models in a flash, you might want to get in on this deal soon.