RealTime IT News

Video Gadget Can Promote Business

Add the rCard to the list of super-lightweight electronic gizmos that may be coming soon to a pocket near you.

In its first incarnation, the rCard, announced this week by rIdea, is a fixed-function device that can play short videos, and it includes text and graphics capabilities; it's not intended to connect to other devices or store and transfer additional content, though future versions will do just that.

For about $25, companies will be able to distribute custom rCards with short videos, as well as text screens for new product promos, tutorials and other information.

Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies, hasn't seen the rCard but told internetnews.com he can't see the product being a success as currently configured.

"The cheap price is intriguing, but that small a screen is bad, it's not a great viewing experience. If you could reload it with other content or connect to other devices and, say, use it to drive a projector, that might make it a lot more attractive."

But rCard's simplicity is the reason it can be priced so low and what its designers feel is a main part of its appeal.

"The way we achieved this low price is by limiting its scope and not trying to keep adding features like everyone else," Armen Kazanchian, lead engineer for the rCard, told internetnews.com.

"We stepped away from all the compatibility overhead and support for various peripherals and support costs. The rCard's real claim to fame is that is has no compatibility except with the human being using it."

Weighing two ounces, the rCard is two by three inches, and it includes an integrated directional button and color display.

Kazanchian said there are many different versions of rCard in the works ranging up to a gigabyte of storage. The battery in the first units will not be rechargeable, but with a built-in automatic sleep mode, can run for months or even years depending on the amount of use. The rCard uses conventional flash memory and a proprietary lithium polymer battery and micro-controller.

Also in the works for next year is a version with built-in speakers.

Given its low cost and the generally short-term value of promotional content, there will likely be interest in recycling rCards.

Kazanchian said he wasn't sure if the rCard's battery would make it inappropriate for standard electronics recycling, but that was the only potential limitation he could think of.