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Little Printer, Big Idea

Alexander Duncan

Everything is going mobile these days, so why not printers, too? That was the idea behind inventor Tuvia Elbaum’s Pocket Printer, a palm-sized device that aims to take on the big boys in the printer industry while revolutionizing the market.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tucked into the southern end of the sprawling Hebrew University campus in Givat Ram is the High-Tech Village, or Kfar High-Tech. This complex of one-story former dormitories houses the offices and laboratories of Israeli start-ups whose founders dream of making it big. A short walk down the hill will lead you to Zuta Labs, home to the Pocket Printer, a 350-gram tiny printer on wheels.Company cofounder and formerYeshivatHakotelinstructorTuviaElbaum, 30, sees his printer doing for the printing market what the mobile phone once did for the telephone market. “Our office space has gone mobile, so our printer should too.”Zuta Labs, named after the Aramaic word for “small,” has garnered the attention of technology giants such as Microsoft, which asked the company to present at its Think Next conference inTelAvivinApril. Zuta also won a prestigious Best of Innovation award from the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the industry-leading Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each year.Zuta’s team of eight is currently working feverishly to unveil its final product for the CES conference, which begins January 6. They aim to create a niche in the approximately $50 billion global printing market dominated by household names like HP, Canon, and Epson, the three companies that collectively control three-quarters of the global printer market.Sleek and teardrop-shaped, the Pocket Printer is 7.3 cm (2.9 inches) tall and 10.2 cm (4 inches) in diameter and weighs in at about three-quarters of a pound (by comparison, a standard iPhone 6 weighs a quarter of a pound).Inside the device is a standard print head: the major difference between Zuta’s product and other printers is that it’s on wheels. Simply place it over a piece of paper on a level surface and watch it go — left, right, up, and down. It can run for one hour on a rechargeable battery and print one page at a time, averaging 40 to 45 seconds per page. The company anticipates selling the printer for $240.

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