Monday 8 September 2014

The Cybermen are coming

Xerox Robot Printer
If you are a fan at all of the UK television series Dr Who you will be intimately familiar with the deadly threat to peace in the universe that is posed by the Cybermen. The Cybermen are a race of cyborgs who began as humanoids but began to implant an increasing array of artificial parts into their bodies, ultimately deleting their own emotions as an essential act of self-preservation. It may be a bit of a leap to say that the development of a robotic printer by Fuji Xerox is a step along the slippery slope of becoming Cybermen, but you can never be too careful. Actually, on the face of it, the robotic printer that has been developed by Fuji Xerox looks really cool.

How does it work? 

The printer comes to you - it’s as simple as that. This is particularly important for printing that you are doing that might be sensitive documents or contain commercially sensitive information. Of course the idea of secure printing isn’t a new one - there are already lots of different ways in which secure printing can be managed - but Fuji Xerox (the joint venture partnership between these two giants in the world of printing) have come up with the first printer that comes to you, the robotic printer and that’s fairly exciting. An example of how it would work would be if you were working in a shared business centre such as in a hotel or an airline lounge. Each desk is allocated a unique printing identity. When the user gives the print command, the printer then moves to that desk (using its sensors to avoid bumping into anything on the way), the user then presents a smart card to the Fuji Xerox printer that confirms their identity and the documents are printed out and readied for collection.

The obesity trap

Remember on the movie Wall-E when all the humans got so fat that they couldn’t really walk any more and just floated around while the robots did all the work? We need to heed that warning. If robotic printers are now bringing our printing to us at our desk, that is one less reason for us to get up out of our desks, that is one less reason for us to do some exercise. Do not give up that gym membership - the minute that we become too fat to walk is the minute that the robots take control.

Does anyone still print? 

You might be wondering what the big deal about printing is anyway - with the move to online storage, and electronic everything, gone are the days when we needed enormous piles of paper on our desk to prove that we we were being productive. It may feel a bit antiquated, but there are still things that need to be signed and often these are the most important and sensitive documents which makes secure printing more of a priority today than ever before.

Robotic printer. Definitely a step forward. Definitely a step towards the future. Not necessarily a step towards us all becoming Cybermen.

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