We are finally winding down from the Christmas/New Year holiday season, although the Chinese New Year is still in full swing. During these holidays, people do a lot of shopping and exchange gifts.
There are two groups of shoppers: the traditional shoppers who like to walk up and down the high streets browsing and buying, and the online button pushers like me. On one of my busy “shopping trips” in front of my laptop, I happened to visit the Website of Victorinox to see if anything would catch my eye.
As most of you will know, Victorinox is the maker of the Swiss Army knife since the 1880s. These knives were first made to meet the demands of the Swiss Army. Especially after the second World War, the popularity of these knives increased even more.
While browsing the Victorinox product portfolio — besides the “Elegant Pocket Tools” and the “Classic” product categories — I spotted one called the “Victorinox USB.” As I left clicked, I was expecting to find Swiss Army knives of various shapes and sizes under that category, but I found much more than that.
Apparently, the Swiss Army knives have undergone a technological revolution since I last looked. It seems my good old penknife with two blades, a can opener, a flat head screwdriver, a cork screw, a cute little pair of tweezers, and a tiny plastic toothpick went out of fashion a long time ago. Nowadays, such penknives come with USB flash disks that offer 64GB data storage. There is even a model called the “Victorinox Slim DUO” with two 64GB flash disks that neatly sit side by side in one enclosure.
Most of you may be thinking “Well, so what? Sticking a couple of USB disks into a Swiss Army knife is not the best thing since the sliced bread.” However, these USB disks come with a whopping 256-bit AES data encryption technology built in, and there is even a file synchronization feature in addition to an automatic data back-up function. Still not impressed? If so, wait until you hear about another “knife” with even more advanced technological features.
“Victorinox Secure 32GB,” as the name suggests, has 32GB storage but includes state-of-the-art encryption technology with fingerprint recognition and password protection. This knife also has an LED flashlight as well as a nail file and a pair of scissors, as the traditional complementing essentials for a business trip! Speaking of the essentials for a business trip, for those who cannot do without a laser pointer while giving presentations, the “Victorinox Flash Laser,” with a laser pointer and 64GB storage capacity, is the solution.
Unfortunately, there is no Swiss Army knife with an iris scanner or face recognition firmware yet, but maybe by Christmas 2013 this gap in the market will also be filled.
Let me give a brief footnote for clarification here. I am not affiliated with Victorinox; I am merely wearing my consumer hat at the moment. The real reason why I wanted to write about this topic was to highlight how a primitive tool such as a knife can be creatively integrated with high technology to embody a useful little product. It is also interesting to see how the general rule of thumb that a USB port/plug addition to a product can make a big difference.
This is a very good example of how a traditional product with an already established market can yet re-invent itself in different shapes and forms simply by following the technological trends, identifying the relevant applications, and successfully adopting those while staying close to its original roots.
In the case of Victorinox, the flash drive, the laser pointer, and the LED flashlight are the chosen suitable applications. The original roots of the Swiss Army knife are portability, handiness, and its design for military use. The marriage of all those features is what the Victorinox USB product portfolio is all about. Even the use of encryption in the flash drive has a symbolic link (albeit a weak one) to classified and secret military applications, which I find particularly fascinating.