Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Little Printer

In May of 2009, Dustin Curtis wrote about his experience at MASA:

It is supposedly one of the greatest Japanese restaurants in the world. The food there is delicately prepared. The atmosphere in the dining room is carefully designed to produce the perfect emotional experience. Even the air circulation system was built to push light amounts of air over specific tables. When you pay $500 for a meal, you expect perfection like this. But at the end of my experience, I was presented with something that […] totally sucked the awesomeness out of my meal. I was given a receipt that looks like the one below.

Curtis suggested a receipt that was engaging, special, and interesting. His suggestion pertained not just for expensive Manhattan restaurants, but for all receipts. They’re an important part of the business transaction, like a nightcap is to a meal.

I’ve never been fond of paper receipts in general. I agree with Curtis’ reflection on a receipt’s importance, but I don’t think it needs to be printed. I enjoy stores that offer to email my receipt to me, because during tax season, I can easily find all emails in a particular folder between a given date range. Expenses? Done.

Industrial designer Matt Webb thinks paper still has a place in this world, though. BERG, his London-based firm, has launched pre-orders for a tiny thermal printer called—wait for it—Little Printer. Ellis Hamburger reports for The Verge:

While factories in Asia assembled prototypes for Little Printer, Webb and company were hard at work creating BERG Cloud, a server built to handle thousands of Little Printers. It’s the “big brain” that feeds information to a small BERG Cloud Bridge that hangs out next to your router. The Cloud Bridge connects wirelessly to Little Printer, which you place near a power source somewhere in your home. BERG Cloud connects to sources like The Guardian and Foursquare, combines them all on a virtual strip of paper, then beams the paper to your Little Printer for printing. Any time Little Printer is ready to print, a light on its top pulses. With one button press, your newspaper is printing. You control it all through BERG Cloud Remote, a web app that works on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

It sounds like a 21st-century version of ticker tape, and that’s probably why I don’t get it. Notifications like these are great through email, SMS, or push notifications. I don’t understand the need for a physical copy of a Foursquare checkin.

Where I can see the use for this is in combination with Square Register. Many businesses still require expenses to be accompanied by a physical receipt, and I can see these tiny thermal printers becoming an easy way to create beautiful proofs of transactions.