Back in the 1980s, the coolest piece of converged mobile technology I owned was probably a pen with a watch in it.
The other piece of high-tech hardware that made me the envy of my school was the key-ring 'you can never lose'. This now Pound Shop favourite could be located easily by a simple whistle, in an early form of biometric awareness.
Unfortunately, although a brilliant concept, the device could manage only an ineffectual beep, no louder than an early Casio alarm clock watch. It was even more infuriating than the original problem: you could hear it mocking you, but you could seldom find the keys.
Nowadays a plethora of IT gadgets are crossing over from the realm of the IT professional to the Joe on the street. Instead of watches, we are increasingly seeing pens with a built-in hard drive and a USB connector.
There are also key-ring storage units and mice with USB storage capacity. And in the near future we are likely to see an increasing number of products in the consumer and business space that have a ubiquitous USB connector protruding out of them.
It probably won't be long before the beeping key-ring concept is replaced by some kind of portable device that has not only storage but some form of voice recognition as well.
And in the US there might be some form of biometric device for added security. One stab in the eye with the USB storage pen and users will be able to access their data in a secure environment, the marketing spiel might say.
For other devices, such as PDAs and digital cameras, cheap, upgradeable storage has been around for some time. In the future these slots will probably migrate to devices such as mobile phones, so that you can store more contact numbers, text, photos and video messages.
Although these markets get saturated in no time, with many vendors getting in on the act, they are a great way to boost your margin on a sale.
By either using USB keys pre-printed with corporate or educational logos or sending them out to customers with presentations on, they are increasingly becoming a good upsell item to carry in your portfolio.
And although I haven't seen one yet, I hope there will soon be a USB pen with a watch in it that beeps if you lose it.
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