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What is a USB Key Card?

A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn

A USB key card is one of several new USB storage unit designs that combine the look of familiar objects with the functionality of an ultra-portable USB digital drive. These are sometimes called wallet USB cards, Slim USB drives, or card shaped USB models. A USB key card can include the technology used to open a door or perform other key card tasks. Alternately, the USB card can double as a credit card with magnetic strip technology included.

The availability of USB key card designs and similar items represents an amazing progress in the technology used to build digital memory storage devices. Less than twenty years ago, large, bulky disk drives were still the norm. Since then, the arrival of the solid state drive initiated the rise of smaller drives like USB flash drives and devices continued to become smaller.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

The solid state drive replaces a traditional disk drive. Until recently, hard disk drives were universally used in computers. The disk drive includes a “wheel” or “disk” that is written on by a stylus to provide the binary information that is decoded by a computer or other device. The solid state drive replaces this with a writing and reading apparatus that does not require a rotating disk or other moving parts.

Technology companies are looking carefully at how USB key card items and other similar products could revolutionize the digital data storage industry. These kinds of small items can provide a lot of new opportunities for branding. For example, a company can include its business information on the card face, as they would with a regular business card, and program detailed multimedia presentations or other client outreach information into the USB drive.

Critics of the Slim USB products or card shaped USB argue that the design is not efficient. Some think of these kinds of items as “gimmicks” and question whether the average recipient will want to carry them in a wallet or purse along with credit cards. Others find USB card devices to be the best new way to store information or to disseminate information about a company or individual.

The ongoing debate over the USB key card design will ultimately be solved by consumer opinion. Companies routinely assess the value of new projects according to sales numbers. If the general consumer base picks up on the utility or appeal of USB key card devices, they will become a normal and familiar addition to the wallet.

Discussion Comments


@NathanG - USB flash drives are not without their faults, regardless of the format they are in. I’ve read reports where the lower cost USB flash drives have suddenly stopped working only after a few uses.

Is this really better than disk drives? My fear is that since the USB key card will be mass produced as part of a marketing campaign, it will be produced cheaply, like business cards.

Customers will use them and start getting weird errors after a few uses. At least with paper products, they don’t malfunction (although they do get throw away quite easily). I’m on the fence about this. I’d give it a few more years for reliability testing before I’d start using the USB cards as my main marketing strategy.


@SkyWhisperer - I think the USB card will make USB technology ever more popular. That’s because it is even more convenient. The credit card format is absolutely ingenious. Everybody has credit cards and that means it will lead to more widespread adoption.

Frankly I think CDs have become a thing of the past. I don’t use them anymore. On top of that, USB drives are increasing their capacity to where they can hold more data than what you can put on a DVD.

Can you imagine having one of these little drives and carrying twelve or even twenty gigabytes of data on them? I am all for it – smaller devices, bigger capacity. That’s the wave of the future.


A friend of mine works as a graphic designer and he showed me one of these USB combo card devices which look very much like a credit card. Loaded onto the card was a Flash multimedia presentation that he put together for a local business.

I think the concept is kind of cool, and it is as convenient as a credit card like the article says. There is only one problem I think. I don’t believe that most customers will actually keep these things in their wallets.

Most people (like myself) regularly scrub their wallets from time to time of unneeded stuff. I think the USB card will wind up as very expensive junk in the process.

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