Lima is a product that radically changes how our devices work, by attaching the content of a user to himself, rather than to his devices,” Paris-based Sévérin Marcombes, who founded Lima along with Gawen Arab, said.
The product has been compared to Dropbox and other cloud-based storage offerings, but the team is quick to point out the differences. Dropbox can be compared to a virtual USB key, which is accessible via the internet, into which you manually copy your files; it’s also a service that has to be rented on a monthly basis, meaning that users do not own the storage either.
Marcombes says that Lima is a step beyond the cloud, as it stores files locally like a private datacentre. “It’s not one shared folder between your devices; it’s their entire storage,” he explains. “This is a complete change of paradigm that puts the user at the very centre. The magic of Lima relies on the fact that its software changes the way your devices store your files to make them all use the same reference storage without changing your habits.
Lima works by pairing a hardware adapter and software that works across desktop and mobile devices, enabling them to show the same data regardless of where the files were originally created or stored. To install Lima, the user needs to plug the Lima device into both their router and an external hard drive (anything up to 8TB is supported). Then, once the Lima app is installed on all devices, the system is ready to be used. Lima currently supports Android and iOS smartphones, and Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X machines. Those with Windows Phone and Chrome OS devices can use the Lima Web app.
After this, Lima gathers all the files from the various devices and moves them all into a shared storage system on the local hard drive. From that moment on, devices use this common storage area instead of their own and act as “a team” to share memory, creating a system that’s both decentralised and private.
So how did the idea for Lima come about? Marcombes says it originally came when he was looking for a way to have all his music on all his devices. “I realised that it wasn’t actually just my music,” he says, “I didn’t understand why I couldn’t have exactly the same content on all the devices I owned – it seemed natural yet no solution was on the market.”
He and Arab then “locked themselves in a basement” and worked on Lima’s prototype for two years. It was then that the product launched on Kickstarter with the goal of raising $69,000 to manufacture the first 1,000 devices. They reached their goal in under 12 hours and 13,000 backers later ended up raising $1.2m. On 12 January this year, they shipped devices to their first 100 beta testers. The product is now available on pre-order for $99 with delivery planned for this spring.