Linux boot drives have been around for a long time. Geeks keep a USB stick loaded with their own operating system in their pocket all the time. And when they show up at a computer lab, all it takes is a quick plugging to load their own operating system on top of whatever is there. With smartphone and laptop ubiquity, I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend were on the way out—but there was always something neat about the idea of an OS in your pocket.
Keepod is a pocketable version of Linux for those of us without a computer science degree. It’s a smiling, hardware-encrypted USB card that’ll load a secure, custom OS on top of any public terminal—along with your documents and other media—in just 20 to 30 seconds. But it’s also equipped with NFC, meaning that it can serve as a wireless ID or virtual wallet, to do things like unlock the door to your office building or pay for a ride on the subway.
Yet the Keepod is almost the creation from another timeline—one where consumers stayed fiscally conservative. We didn’t have triple-digit monthly bills for our cellphones, and we saw computers as part of a government-supplied infrastructure, like buses or railroads, that we shared. At the same time, this is precisely the cultural counterpoint that makes Keepod so appealing. It’s the anti-shiny gadget.
“Everyone is designing their products to look so perfect, and users are going crazy to keep them so perfect by spending money on covers,” CEO Nissan Bahar explains. “We designed Keepod knowing that the user will drop it, lose it, or spill something on it. It will get stolen, etc. It needs to be treated for what it is, just a piece of plastic. And if you lose it, no worries, get a new one and within a few minutes everything is back and you are ready to go.”
Don’t let appearances fool you. That smiling, yellow card is at the pinnacle of industrial design. It inherently feels like an ID, yet it’s crafted to communicate with any computer seamlessly. But the best part of all? It’s way too cool to care.
The Keepod is currently in beta testing.
[Hat tip: designboom]