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Jun 09 2010

An E-mail Address for Every Printer – Silly or Smart?

Hewlett-Packard, a big name in computers and printers, has listened to smartphone users who have been looking for an easy way to print from their devices. iPhone users have had partial solutions by means of dedicated apps which are limited to printing photos and screenshots but everyone else has been rather hamstrung.

So what is HP’s solution?

Apparently, the solution is to give each printer its own e-mail address. On face value, this would seem to be a fairly straightforward and simple solution and most households would have connectivity that would support third party e-mail without too many problems. Sending an e-mail from any of the major smartphones should be a fairly trivial affair even for the most inexperienced user.

That’s all well and good except for one small problem – spam.

Now, without details as to how the e-mail printing mechanism would work, one would have to question how printing via e-mail would be handled. It would be terrible to go to bed one night and then wake up the next morning to find all of your ink and paper had been used up due to spam or abuse by external parties.

It would remain to be seen as to whether or not this would be a valid exploit but I would certainly look very carefully at this particular function in upcoming HP printers. I guess fax machines could be exploited in a similar way (where you could just guess a fax number but would have to pay for the call) but obviously with e-mail being free and an order or magnitude faster this could pose an issue.

So if you happen to get a new HP printer, just be careful with this new feature!

1 ping

  1. HP ePrint – Research Underway | Boydo's Tech Talk

    [...] Boydo Last year, HP introduced functionality into its higher end consumer printers in the form of ePrinting which allocated an e-mail address to a given printer allowing people to effectively print from [...]

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