Satisfying though it may be to baffle one's friends occasionally, adopters of the Leyio Personal Sharing Device may get tired of fielding questions about what the heck the thing actually does.
Does it play music? No. Does it play video? No. So it's just another portable storage device, then? Not quite.
Yes, the Leyio Personal Sharing Device is a portable USB 2.0 storage device with a capacity of 16GB. But it also has the clever capability of being able to transfer data wirelessly to other Leyio Personal Sharing Devices at impressive speed (10 megabytes per second, the firm claims). You establish a connection, select a file (or the link to your social-networking profile) on the small screen and 'flick' your wrist; the accelerometer picks up the motion and sends the file on its way.
In a room full of Leyio Personal Sharing Devices the connection (based on ultra-wide band, or UWB, technology) seemed a touch flaky, but we had more reliable results with just two, which is a more realistic simulation of actual use.
And the Leyio Personal Sharing Device has other unusual features. One is its biometric thumbprint detector, which is used to unlock the device when you power up and to perform most navigation in regular use. Oddly enough this is slickly effective as a navigation tool (it can happily detect four-way movement) but stubborn when unlocking. Until you get the knack of scanning your thumb in just the right delicate way you'll frequently have to resort to the more laborious numerical code.
A further nod to the security-conscious is that the Leyio Personal Sharing Device has a small 'satellite' USB unit that can be removed and plugged into a laptop or other system. You select files to copy to it before removal; when it's returned, any new files are copied back into the Leyio's main memory, then the satellite is wiped automatically for the next time.
These are nice features, but we fear that they may be overkill for the average user. Yes, it's a good idea to secure important data, but there are cheaper existing solutions for this; wireless transfer is nice, but less impressive when you can transfer only to other Leyio Personal Sharing Devices. The Leyio Personal Sharing Device may have focused too much on doing a simple thing well (storing, protecting and wirelessly transferring a relatively small number of files), and the fact that it can't multitask feels like a throwback in our era of portable workstations.
Ultimately, the Leyio Personal Sharing Device is a well-executed solution to a problem that doesn't exist; or, more accurately, a solution that's been applied to the wrong situation. This sort of technology may well end up in a future iteration of Apple's iPhone, where the ability to transfer files wirelessly, then actually do something with them, would be much appreciated. Here, it feels old-fashioned that you have to go to a PC to play any of the music or video (or even less common image formats) that you've been sent.
There's definitely potential here; if Leyio can upgrade the device to connect wirelessly with other devices – iPhones, say – then it would become a useful piece of kit. But until then, 'flicking' files to a small pool of fellow Leyio owners is a gimmicky niche feature, leaving this as effectively an overpriced USB stick with unusually comprehensive security features.