Some really smart ideas may seem entirely obvious after they’ve been done, but that doesn’t detract from the initial wisdom of the concept or the labor required to make it a reality. So when you see the pictures below of LaCie’s iamaKey, and think something like, “well, duh, those things were called USB keys,” sure, they were. You could even attach some of them to keychains or necklaces, toss them into gym key pockets, and so on. But LaCie’s gone and taken the next step: it has made a USB storage key that blends in with the rest of your keys and can be carried with them wherever they may go.
Actually, it has come up with three: iamaKey is the thin version shown here with an half-open USB connector, claimed to be highly scratch and water resistant. LaCie includes a clear and quite possibly losable protector for iamaKey’s pins, the only part of the design that we aren’t totally thrilled with; you pop it off, turn the key upside down, and plug it into any Mac or PC USB port for instant access to your files. Another version is itsaKey, a bigger key with a traditional USB connector, which means that it doesn’t require the clear protector, but also doesn’t look quite as key-like at the bottom. Both iamaKey and itsaKey come in 4GB or 8GB versions, with up to 30mb/sec read and 10mb/sec write rates. There’s also a third version, PassKey, which is nothing more than a microSD USB Card Reader, designed to turn a leftover or separately purchased microSD/SDHC card into a USB key. Thicker than the others, it includes a keyring. All were designed by 5.5 Designers, a French design firm that’s now officially on our radar.
What’s really interesting about these keys? They start at $10 in price for the PassKey, and will be available from LaCie’s web site on Monday. It’ll be interesting to see what you guys and gals think of this new storage idea, but we really like it, and the fact that LaCie keeps pushing the design envelope on drives. Updated: itsaKey goes for $15 or $24, and iamaKey for $18 or $28, depending on capacity.