The Leyio PSD

The mobile security community already know about PTDs (personal trusted devices), but do we know about, but until very recently, I didn’t know what a PSD was. It seemed obvious from the ad I received from one of my favorite e-commerce sites, so I looked up the device.

The Leyio has been launched a few months ago, and it is of course a Personal Sharing Device. The videos on the site explain it better than I could do it, but the idea is to have a device that can contain some data (16Gb in the standard version), and share it with many other devices. Here are some examples of what it can do:

  • Share files with USB keys. You connect a USB key on the USB port, and hop, you can exchange files.
  • Share files with phones. You connect the phone on the USB post, and hop, you can exchange files (well, I guess, only if your phone is able to exchange files with a PC without any additional driver.
  • Share files with iPods. You connect an iPod, and hop, you can exchange files. Wait? All files? In both directions? I don’t know, but if this is the case, then welcome to the wonderful world of Palm Pre and to the war of updates between Apple and Leyio (if Apple thinks that you are significant enough).
  • Share files with PCs. You select the files that you want to share, and they are copied into a small USB key that you transfer to the PC. Now, that sounds like a good feature, allowing one to select the files to be shared.
  • Share files with PCs (2). You connect the Leyio to a PC, and you can see all its content, organize it, etc.
  • Share files with another Leyio. The Leyio includes a radio link that allows two Leyio to share data. This is done by shaking the device, like you are throwing the content at the other guy.

This is a nice device, but is it worth it at 129€?

Of course, one of the issues is security. On that part, Leyio is innovating by using a fingerprint scanner for authentication (you can also use a password if you don’t trust biometry). I really like the fact that the scanner is also used as input device. In terms of security, I just hope that there isn’t any loophole left wide open, but this device definitely is a step forward when compared to standard USB keys.

Here is a grabbag of remarks:

  • Wishful thinking. Sharing with another Leyio is nice, but a Leyio ain’t an iPod, and the probability to find another one nearby is low. If that device could connect in WiFi/Bluetooth to my iPod Touch and transfer data through a free iPod application, things would be much better.
  • Gadgetry. I hope that the radio link and the accelerometer don’t cost much, because in practice, they are likely to be of little use.
  • No online backup. Although 16Gb is a bit small, this is a nice little backup device. In that case, associating it to storage on the cloud would ne nice.
  • No wireless. What? You think that you can be cool without being wirelessly connected? This radio interface really needs some work.
  • Where are my files? My files are usually on my PC somewhere. I would put on a Leyio the files that I think I am most likely to share. The question is: is 16Gb enough? Possibly, but I don’t know.

Now, will I buy one? No, not at 129€, for sure, because I am not that desparate to share. But then, even if I share more than some people, I am not a teenager, and I can’t say what teenagers would say about the device (the Leyio also offers ways to share avatars and internet links, but I have the feeling that they would find other problems to it).

To close this, here are a few suggestions for the future of that device:

  • Make a corporate version. With a professional look, a strong focus on security a little less gadgetry, and a few more features, this could make it in the corporate world, at least as a more secure way to share things.
  • Combine it with other features. A Leyio/Yuuwaa/Kindle combination would be nice. A thing that manages sharing (Leyio), is automatically backed up on line (Yuuwaa), and comes with a Kindle-like “free” 3G subscription so that the communication is completely transparent. Nice!

Of course, making the device disappear altogether, or get to the form factor of a standard USB key would also be nice, because I am already carrying an iPod Touch and an Android phone, so this third thing is too large.

Note to self: when launching a data-related service/object, think about using names with (almost) no consonants; smooth sounds are required, like Yuuwaa or Leyio.

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