One of the most intriguing new products unveiled at DEMOfall was a USB “smart drive” created by U3. Here’s the idea: on a USB thumb drive (for you Luddites that’s a thing the size of your thumb – get it? – that you plug into your computer), you can hold not only your data, but the actual programs that make it run. The company demonstrated one that even had a version of Microsoft Outlook.
One of the key marketing approaches for the new product is that it allows you to take your documents, emails, etc. with you no matter what computer you are using. Take your desktop from work and effectively bring it home with you.
Of course, these days a lot of folks use laptops for that very purpose. So they also suggest it as a way for multiple people to easily share a computer without mucking things up for everyone else. For example, if you and your kids share a computer, you could each have one of these USB keys so that your programs and data stay on it and keep the rest of the computer clean and free from spyware and other things that your kids might acquire in their surfing. None of the cookies or other things you pick up along the way get deposited on the computer – they stay on the USB key.
But I’m most intrigued about the possibility of using it to enhance security. The two initial versions produced by SanDisk and Memorex don’t have biometrics, but they do permit encryption and password protection. If one of those manufacturers made a version with fingerprint recognition, it might be a good way to enhance security for firms concerned with what would happen if a laptop were lost.
I have samples of both the Memorex and SanDisk versions and will let you know what I find after I have time to test them.