The WVIL, a previous concept for Artefact, imagined what might happen when stand-alone cameras are totally replaced by smartphones.

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Seriously: Artefact's Printer Redesign Isn't Boring, It's Visionary

The SWYP takes the pain and guesswork out of a historically clunky device.

If our office is any indication, printer use is on the decline. (Some of us wouldn’t know how to find the printer, let alone how to connect to it.) That’s in part because we’ve adjusted to working and communicating on screens, but it’s also because they’re damned frustrating to use. Command one to print a short email, and what you get is microscopic type and four pages of ads—that is, if you get it to work at all. A new printer concept from Artefact, a Seattle-based design firm, radically streamlines the device, packing an intuitive user interface into a radically simplified box design that would appeal to design god Dieter Rams.

At the heart of the SWYP (See What You Print) is a large touchscreen that allows users to see and manipulate on a 1:1 scale what the finished result will look like before hitting "print." Pictures and documents can be previewed and edited, and unwanted areas, like those irritating margin ads, can be removed by "swyping" them off the screen. Users can also bypass the computer altogether by seamlessly connecting their camera, phone, or tablet to the printer. Once connected, they can select and crop photos with their fingers.

To us, one of the most impressive features is the folding paper tray, which has the simple genius of the iPad screen flap. The thin, fabric-lined aluminum sheet neatly folds up when not in use; the well-placed creases make it rigid enough to hold paper when unfolded.

In devising the prototype, Artefact used existing technologies, but it has no intention of manufacturing SWYP. Rather, the designers’ primary objective is to provoke the industry to revisit a piece of technology that has drastically fallen behind the times. Asked whether he was concerned someone might steal features like the novel paper tray, Artefact’s director of design, Fernd van Engelen, replied: "No, as long as they give us credit."

For another of Artefact’s reinventions, check out WVIL, a concept imagining what happens when stand-alone cameras are fully replaced by smartphones.

[Photos by Doug Evans]

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  • jayki

    Thank you, I've been wondering why no one had come up with better solution for printers. This would be BETTER for the environment, how many times have you or a friend/family member wasted both ink and paper because the print preview would not print as shown?

    'What you see is what you get' would save so many print nightmares/disasters. In addition, consumer printers are a joke, bad quality, expensive ink and not intuitive.
    Printing should not be as difficult as we make it out to be, print to edge and double sided functions should be the norm but they're buried away so that consumers can't find them. Someone please make an efficient, simple printer!

  • Steven

    I’m sorry for the environment when all simple devices become multi-tech-monsters with redundant interfaces. A simple app for tablets and PCs would do the same job without the huge CO2 footprint.

  • Ashman

    This is what HP could have done with Palm.  Too bad they didn't have anyone with vision in their huge corporation of salesmen and engineers...

  • Janebidgood

    I want one! Printer design has remained in the Stone Age. This combines cool design and great functionality. Someone manufacture this please.