‘ink’ Launches On-Demand, Cloud-Based Printing for Universities and Students
One of the perennial challenges facing universities and colleges has been providing students with hassle-free, easy printing on campus. Today, however, ink, reported that it will be rolling out its new cloud-based, hassle-free digital-printing platform to campuses nationwide, solving the problems typically associated with on-campus student printing.
ink also reported that it had received $7 million in new funding led by VTF Capital, SQN Ventures Partners, Invest Nebraska, and NE Angels, bringing its total funding to $15 million.
ink notes that the U.S. print market recently reached $100 billion in annual revenues, and that “with more things becoming digitized, this number continues to grow as people continue to heavily rely on printed materials, including books, magazines, newspapers, and photos.
“Today’s students come to college with an average of seven smart devices–from phones and laptops to watches and music accessories. Though they are constantly connected, over 92 percent of students prefer print materials to using e-readers,” explained ink CEO and co-founder, Jonathan Manzi. “Kindles and Kinkos won’t cut it.”
The firm notes that, according to a recent survey of textbook makers, bookstore owners, and college students, millennials still strongly prefer print for both pleasure and learning. It says that this is largely due to the reader’s tendency to skim on screens, which leads to distraction–students reported they were less likely to multitask with hard copy (1 percent) versus reading from a screen (90 percent). Millennials are also said to prefer to print photos, labels, and textbooks–even to the e-books that they get for free.
ink is a cloud-based printing platform that’s said to remove some of printing’s key difficulties. Earlier this year, ink tested its flagship product, the SmartStation, at Stanford University. The SmartStation is an intelligent on-demand print station that runs off of the company’s cloud-based portal, and which enables users to create print jobs remotely with one touch, submitting them from mobile devices and USB memory drives, as well as from cloud-based document-storage and sharing sites, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and more, as well as from the Instagram photo-sharing site.
With this validation, ink says it developed a touchscreen hardware plug-in and a cloud-based operating system that together are said to transform any printer into a print shop. Called inkTouch, the plug-in bypasses expensive, cumbersome on-site solutions with proprietary print-management software that works with any printer model.
Before this technology, in recent years, ink says that print integration was an almost insurmountable barrier for institutions, as the rate in which new fonts and file-type capabilities were released skyrocketed, stating that third-party print management software couldn’t keep up, and print errors occurred. ink says it translates all font and file format updates to the field, automatically, in real time, eliminating printer errors.
Users can go to any inkTouch, scan their documents, and view them on the printer/MFP’s touchscreen. Using the printer/MFP’s touchscreen, they can swipe through to view, rearrange, and edit files. They can also sign a specific page with their fingertip, type in a recipient’s mailing address, hit “send” and ink will sign, seal, and deliver on their behalf.
“ink is the Kinkos of the future,” says Manzi. “When we looked at the market opportunity, we were amazed at how print, though the first industry to undergo a major transformation, hadn’t really evolved since our parents were in school. How can we be talking about self-driving cars when we still don’t have a modern printing solution? Now we do. And soon, we will have the modern bridge between the physical and digital worlds.”
ink says that at the University of Nebraska, ink replaced Xerox printers, Pharos print-management software, and several print labs for students, and that “In under one year vs. the former solution, printing doubled, engagement tripled, a financial loss was neutralized, and day-to-day support and oversight was eliminated.”
inkTouch will be available in 30 universities beginning in January 2018, with additional campuses coming online in early spring 2018.
For more information, visit ink here.