20 March, 2010

Konica Printers to Replenish Own Cartridges

Have you ever exhausted your toner the moment tomorrow’s presentation needs printing? Even if you’re careful to keep a stock of cartridges, a search on Twitter at any one moment will reveal someone in a panic.

Until recently, these people could only broadcast their panic on the internet (natch) before rushing out. Whether they’d find toner in time was anyone’s guess.

Fortunately, cartridge brand Konica has teamed with Wireless Logic to create printers that make this predicament a thing of the past.

According to a January press release by Wireless Logic, future Konica printers will come equipped with GPRS SIM cards – letting Konica monitor each printer’s toner levels.

Once the printer runs low, new printer cartridges are automatically re-ordered.

The integrated Wireless Logic cards also check the printer’s performance, meaning faults can be detected more quickly. Any problems are registered on Konica’s CS Remote Care Service, and an engineer is dispatched to solve the problem.

Already Konica has noticed a 50% drop in its billing queue from customers using the new printers – who (according to the press release) have saved money too.

However, the Wireless Logic release does not address whether consumers can customise the service they receive. For example, can persons opt out of the monitoring service if they wish to purchase toner from a less expensive option such as Printerinks.com? Does Konica record each person’s printer use for marketing ends?

In May 2006 a report appeared in The New York Times addressing the privacy issues of ‘wireless tracking’ appliances. Writer Kevin J. O’Brien spoke of existing RFID tags in Underground Tube passes – with the potential to track people and their belongings.

Though nothing indicates that Konica’s intent is not innocent, customers ought ask how their information will be used.

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