Files and digital content have become so important to our lives that it’s not surprising to see workers and students carrying a USB stick with them all the time. These data storage devices are designed to be small so that they are convenient to carry around, but their size can also become their downfall. It’s almost too easy to lose them in the black holes that are our bags or to forget them at home when you urgently need to work on your project. It would be great if you have that USB flash drive always attached to your laptop, but having it jutting out on the side is an accident waiting to happen. This concept design tries to solve that problem by ingeniously making the USB stick so thin that you can sandwich it between your laptop’s screen and keyboard without worrying about breaking anything in the process.
Designer: CLAIRE + LÉA
Thanks to advancements in technology and manufacturing processes, flash storage today can be extremely thin. Unfortunately, the traditional USB connectors for these peripherals are the reason for much of their bulk, so there are some designs that shed off the metal cages that shield the USB connectors, trading protection for convenience. The Saint Antoine USB key concept design takes that idea to the extreme by flattening the accessory while also shaping it into an unusual branch-like form.
Simply having an extremely flat USB stick doesn’t exactly solve the problem mentioned earlier and even exacerbates it. It only makes the USB key harder to find and, more importantly, easier to break. What this concept does differently is to eschew the traditional rectangular form of these accessories into something that has small protrusions branching off a rather thin stem. This shape isn’t without its purpose, though, since that shape makes it possible to fit the USB key in between the keys of a laptop keyboard.
The idea behind this rather eccentric design is for the USB flash drive to rest in between specific laptop keys so that you never have to worry about losing it in transit. And since the design is so thin, it’s also safe to close the laptop lid on it since it won’t push into and puncture the screen. This way, you always have this USB key with you, ready to be used when you need it but getting out of the way when you don’t.
As interesting as the design might be, it does raise important technical and usability questions as well. Given the extremely thin shape of the chassis, there might not actually be enough room for the electronics necessary to store data. Having the USB key in between keys could also affect the typing experience, but removing it every time you need to type is also terribly inconvenient. More importantly, laptop keyboards vary from brand to brand and model to model, which means that one particular Saint Antoine shape might not fit any other laptop, making it an even more inconvenient and wasteful design.