Innovation That Matters

Roving office printer heads to your desk when your documents are ready

Work & Lifestyle

Fuji Xerox has developed an experimental printer that uses Roomba-like technology to navigate spaces and deliver printouts to the worker that needs them.

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Although printers have slowly become smaller and added wireless capabilities over the past few years, they're still seen as a hangover of the early digital age. Innovations such as Pocket Printer have aimed to rethink the device, but they still remain a mostly annoying part of office life, and using them can often interrupt an otherwise smooth workflow. In order to help avoid back and forth trips to the office printer, Fuji Xerox has developed an experimental device that uses Roomba-like technology to navigate spaces and deliver printouts to the worker that needs them.

The printer sits on mechanical wheels that allow it to drive itself around the office, using LIDAR laser technology to ensure it doesn't bump into furniture or people. For a recent prototype testing program, each desk in the office was equipped with a smart card, detailing a URL for users to access the printer. Workers simply drag and drop their files into the browser window to activate the printer and the machine automatically starts moving towards the location of the relevant smart card. When it arrives, users swipe their card to confirm the print and the machine gets to work. Once it's finished, it returns back to its dock to charge, although it can go a whole day on a full charge, according to the Nikkei Technology news site.

The device is still in the prototype stages, so it won't be hitting workplaces any time soon. Are there other pieces of everyday office technology that could be given a more modern overhaul?



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