This week in Paris, the hardware wallet company Ledger unveiled Stax at their annual community gathering, Ledger Op3n. Designed by Tony Fadell (known for creating the iPod, iPhone and Nest thermostats) in close collaboration with Ledger CXO Ian Rogers, Stax has the potential to bring a new wave of people into the web3 fold, given its seismic leap in usability and fun over previous versions of Ledger’s secure storage devices for crypto currencies and NFTs. With Stax, the form factor and user experience are all new: it’s shaped like a thick credit card and is covered in touch-sensitive e-ink that wraps a full 180 degrees around the spine. This configuration affords easier control of the device when you need it and the ability to display digital art when it’s at rest. Though lightweight, Stax feels premium and the use of magnets to enable the devices to stack adds a layer of delight.
Rogers and Fadell (friends for years before the former left his role as Chief Digital Officer at LVMH to join Ledger) have a camaraderie as instigators and change-makers in the world where digital and physical experiences intersect. Intrigued by Ledger after Rogers joined, Fadell set out to understand the space, which for him was a deep and thorough process that included testing every available secure storage device for digital assets. He then called Rogers to let him know there was something missing from Ledger’s product line up and said, “I know what it is, but I can’t tell you yet.” He was excited, but still needed to do some research to ensure the idea was possible.
What does the future fat stack of cash look like?
Of course, Fadell did the research and figured out how to execute his idea. “What I love about this product personally is there was a day when he [Fadell] did tell me what it was, and this device is the device he described to me in the car that day,” Rogers shares. What Fadell explained was that “there should be a screen that goes all the way around the edge so you can read the spine and then they stack up magnetically—actually he started the sentence with, ‘What does the future fat stack of cash look like?’” From there, a deep design process commenced, also investigating many other form factors and enabling technologies. As it happens, at the end of that journey, the design of Stax was the same as this original idea.
“What started as proof of identity for blockchains can go much, much further and that’s the reason that I got very excited, because it was like ‘OK, this can be a daily use device,'” Fadell reflects, while acknowledging that Ledger Stax has the potential to become a consumer mainstay to securely store and display any verified digital asset. Today, that might be cryptocurrency and digital art, but in the future it could be ID cards or other personal records. For context about how secure Ledger devices are, they have sold six million of them and (according to Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier) not one of them has ever been hacked.
Ledger Stax measures 85mm by 54mm by 6mm, weighs 45g, has a 672×400 pixel capacitive touch e-ink display with 16 shades of gray, connects using USB-C and Bluetooth, supports Qi wireless charging and features Ledger’s EAL 5+ certified secure element. “One thing I’ve learned is that when you make a robust platform, you put in more hardware, so that can be used by software over time,” Fadell explains. “All these things [are crucial] because you want to really build it for the future as opposed to saying, ‘Oh, next year, you gotta buy another one and then the next year, another one.”
Self custody of digital assets is becoming better understood and more valued than ever in the wake of collapsing exchanges. While the Ledger Stax won’t be available until March 2023, it’s available for pre-order today for $279 or 0.22 eth.
Hero image and video courtesy of Ledger