Now Computing
StormFly

StormFly Wants To Childproof Your Computer With Its Ubuntu-Booting USB Bracelet

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When I was but a wee lad, I hosed my share of family computers simply because I wanted to help out — once I tried to free up space on a 6GB hard drive by deleting anything larger than 1MB. You can imagine how well that played out.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the founders of Barcelona-based Now Computing went through something similar, because they’ve just recently launched a Kickstarter project for a device that should ensure it never happens again.

At its core, the $59 StormFly is little more than a 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive with a bootable version of Ubuntu that someone (ideally a kid) can wear on their wrist. After a little bit of setup (mostly changing the boot sequence in a PC’s BIOS), those little ones whip the USB bracelet off their wrists, plug it into a PC or a Mac, and do whatever it is that kids do on computers these days without having to worry. Thankfully, since the StormFly’s user never has access to the OS that’s actually installed on the host computer, there’s no way for them to royally screw things up by mucking with other people’s settings or downloading things they really shouldn’t be.

Not a bad proposition, especially when parents are exposing children to technology earlier and earlier these days (for better or worse).

Granted, this is the sort of thing most of you readers could probably cobble together in under an hour, but not everyone can be bothered to put together a custom computing environment for their kids. StormFly is about more than just a bit of hardware that you wear though — young ones are prone to lose things, which is why StormFly also features an encrypted online backup component… for an additional monthly fee. In the event that its user misplaces their USB bracelet, StormFly can ship out a replacement unit that has all of a user’s data back where it was within about 24 hours.

There are, however, some issues to be found here. Perhaps most concerning its the project’s tagline — the team claims multiple times that the StormFly is “like a PC on your wrist,” which seems a bit misleading. To their credit, the project’s description puts a finer point on what the thing actually is (a USB 3.0 flash drive with Ubuntu loaded onto it), but it’s a questionable move that’s already caused some heated debate in the project’s comments section. Still, it’s a neat enough project, and it’s slowly been picking up steam — StormFly has currently hit $14,000 in pledges after only a few days, so it’s certainly got a shot at becoming a real product.