With today’s ‘SMART TV’ revolution and with the recently announced ‘Xbox One’, it seems that the answer to all our technological problems is to integrate. Our apps connect to our social media platforms, our TVs talk to our modems and our tablets display our SKY TV shows amongst many other things. In a few years time, it’d be no surprise to see that we only need 1 or 2 devices in our homes – whereas right now you might cluttering up space with multiple tablets, laptops, tv’s and games consoles!
The one problem yet to be addressed in this big leap forward, is that of home printers. Specialist equipment such as wide format printers or high-end super fast printers will always be standalone, as the focus needs to be on the one function and one function alone, and this has always been the case. For home users and casual printer users however, the demands for the best quality and standards are often overridden by concerns over price, size and convenience. It is for these models, that technological integration could be a future prospect for our now pretty complex home entertainment systems.
What about printing a photo straight from Facebook that you’re viewing on your TV? Or loading paper into the back of a tablet to print off quick designs and sketches? Some of these ideas may seem a little farfetched and clumsy, but with smart TVs and now the Xbox one, why couldn’t a TV have a printing system? Also, the high quality of design apps available for iPads and other tablets could soon warrant the need for quick hassle-free print offs in some professions.
What I’m trying to say here is that printers seem to have been left behind in the last few years of ‘synergistic science’ when it comes to our gadgets, yet we all use them every single day. Billions of us.
The ‘History’ of Printer Integration
We all remember the GAMEBOY camera and printer kit, with its black and white pixelated images. Whether it was fond childhood memories or more frustrated attempts at creating something visibly clear, it certainly wasn’t breakthrough technology nor did it stick around for long.
Take Polaroid cameras, for example, that was also the integration of a camera and a printer, but it didn’t take off massively. It did become a cult fad and fashion, gaining huge worldwide popularity with niche groups and trends throughout the second half of the 20th century, but there wasn’t any room for technological development or evolution. The ‘camera that prints’ never made it into the digital world, or into the home market as a serious contender.
It seems that, with ‘crossover’ technology, whenever printing gets thrown into the equation, it’s always a novelty or a complete failure, but why is this? Surely there’s a way in which the stars of modern home technology can share centre stage with the humble home printer?
Wifi and ‘air printing apps’
Recently, the popularity of the tablet and apps, have brought on the integration of printing. Wireless printing apps, such as ‘AirPrint’ and ‘CloudPrint’, allow tablet and smartphone users to send documents to their printer/desktop setup for printing. This seems like a step in right direction, however after a few years of existence, not much development has happened.
Many printers now also have Wifi functionality, allowing them to print remotely from other devices, this is kind of the same idea as the air printing apps, and is hugely popular, but it still isn’t what I’d call full integration.
The future of printer technology: does it have a place in the true crossover world?
Going back to the idea of ‘true’ printer integration, where the need for a standalone printer eventually diminishes, and we are still a long way off. I know a lot of people would be pretty excited at a Sky TV box that could live pause, and then email or print screenshots. It’s not that far-fetched if you think about it: Manchester United win the treble in the 2016/17 season, and you live pause the trophy lift at the end of the Champions League Final, considering you’re watching this in HD, it’d make the perfect poster to frame, so you print it there and then!
Or imagine a boardroom meeting in a business situation, someone proposes a quick idea of a new building’s plans, but there are 20 people in that meeting, so instead of sketching out an idea and passing it round – wasting valuable business time – you can simply print 20 copies straight out of the micro-printer that’s inside of your tablet! It happened with cameras in phones and tablets, so why not printers? All it needs is time, development and to be taken seriously.
The fact that printers use hard media such as paper and other materials, gets in the way of them easily being added to tablets and home entertainment systems at the moment. On the other hand, the need for a home printer is still strong, and with the eventual collaboration of all technologies into one home system, these two forces could and should collide, and who knows, maybe something completely original will come out of it!