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The annual Consumer Electronics Show is filled with new and proposed products that will fill the shelves of your local electronics shop (or online store) in the next six to 12 months. Some are amazing; some are visionary; some are outlandish; some are all of the above.

One of the products that caught my attention at the 2017 show is a USB storage device that claims to be “the world’s first unlimited capacity USB drive,” called “Moore.” I’m still not sure which of the above categories it fits into yet.

If you’re like me, you probably have thousands of data files saved on various internal and external hard drives. Currently, between active files and backups, I have a half-dozen hard drives on the desk in my office with the ability to hold 12 TB of data. The idea of “unlimited” storage in a single device is very appealing. However, even if you’ve had zero physics courses in high school or college, you’re probably wondering how “unlimited” storage could be possible.

As shown at CES, the device itself looks like every other thumb drive you have ever used. It has the ability to store 64 GB of data on the device itself—the “infinite” storage comes in the form of cloud storage. So, you would have access to any of the unlimited amount of data that you have stored on the company’s cloud server as long as you have an Internet connection. Without an Internet connection, you’re limited to the 64 GB of data that Moore can store locally.

The promised innovation of “unlimited capacity” would come from how Moore manages the local files versus the files stored in the cloud. Moore promises to use “machine learning” (aka artificial intelligence) to “know” which files you are most likely to use and to have them available on the device. It will “learn,” over time, which files you use most often and make them available on the local device, shifting other files that you use less often back to the cloud. A representative at CES also said that Moore would also be able to learn to make other files that are related to the ones you access most often, available locally on the device.

While the company claims that you can have access to your files with or without an Internet connection, this is a bit of an oversell. Sure, you can access the locally-stored files without an Internet connection. As you probably guessed, you cannot access any of the cloud-stored files without an Internet connection. If you’re on an airplane and hadn’t planned ahead by storing specific files on the Moore USB thumb drive, you’d have to hope that Moore had learned enough about your file-using habits to have the files you really wanted to work on available on the device. If it didn’t, you’re out of luck accessing that file until you’re connected to the Internet again. One bonus of Moore over any other USB drive is that any changes you make to files stored on the Moore device will be synced with the versions stored in the cloud the next time you connect to the Internet.

What remains unclear, however, is how the initial decisions are made on which data to store locally and which get immediately shunted to the cloud.

Data stored on the company’s cloud servers is protected using AES 128 bit encryption. In transit between the cloud servers and the USB device, the data is protected using the HTTPS secure transfer protocol. The USB device itself also uses AES 128 bit encryption and can be password protected. (In a 2012 article, EE Times estimated that it would take a supercomputer over a billion years to check all the possible key combinations of AES 128 bit encryption.)

The device’s name is derived from “Moore’s Law,” in which Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention and would likely continue for the foreseeable future. (Moore’s estimation actually proved to be a little low. The current rate is that transistors are doubling once every eighteen months.)

The product remains in development and is not yet available for retail purchase. Pricing has not yet been set for the device or monthly cloud storage. Depending on the final pricing, the device could be useful as an encrypted, password-protected, USB storage device to protect client-confidential information… the encrypted cloud storage would be a bonus.

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