The Japanese company Green House has recently introduced an innovative USB cap, offering users the ability to secure various devices that connect to USB ports, such as flash memory sticks, USB dongles and wireless LAN adapters. The new cap physically locks devices using a classic 3-digit dial.
Just like suitcases’ locks, the new USB cap makes it possible to prevent snoopy people from messing with users’ personal USB devices. Although the lock isn’t as sophisticated as a digital lock (with a thousand-to-one chance of cracking it open), the mere thought of trying to hack an old-school “hardware” might hinder potential thieves.
In practice, the USB lock can be applied to almost any USB based device, even mouse, keyboard, and printers’ cables. The password setting is simple: users need to roll the three wheels to the desired code; pressing the “set” button locks the cap. Although it isn’t as strong as digital encryption, Green House’s coding method has proved itself useful during the last century.
The cap adds almost no weight to the locked device, as it weighs only 20 grams. Moreover, its minimal size of 27 x 13 x 25 mm makes it a portable addition. However, the few devices with hollow pin USB are not supported. The cap’s colors vary, matching the common colors and USB based devices: black, white and silver.
Although the breaking of this lock requires minimal effort, some gadgets’ fans might buy it, if only to enhance their collection of USB-related devices. However, since this device doesn’t prevent actual theft, consumers who are seriously concerned about their devices’ security would probably choose another solution.
The USB lock is very cheap: according to Green House, the retail price is 500-Yen (approximately $5.50). Currently it is sold only in Japan, and no future plans for distribution in the US have been announced.
TFOT has covered numerous USB-based gadgets, including the USBCell Battery, which combines a 1300 mAh Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable battery with a USB plug, the Bulletproof USB Flash Drive, constructed with double layers of sealed protective metal, the OCZ Throttle, which integrates eSATA connectivity with a conventional USB drive, and the USB-MP3-Pen, a shockproof and moisture-proof mass storage device that includes an MP3 Player. Other related TFOT stories include the Artimi Camera Wireless USB technology, which allows users to send pictures from their camera to a nearby computer without the need for wires, the development of New Green Plug Universal Adapters, which enable users to power their electronic gear with only one power adapter, and the emergence of the first USB 3.0-based products expected around the end of 2009.
For more information on the USB lock, see its website (Japanese) and translated (via Google).
Ehud is a student for Communication & Journalism as well as Business Administration in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has knowledge in computers' software and hardware and a keen interest in consumer electronics and innovative gadgets.