In most organizations that mainly deal with physical documents it can be observed that their official information is kept in two modes; physical and digital. For example when an external party communicates an organization in paper and ink, the information in that physical document may be converted to digital form through data entry and saved in the organization’s computer system. The physical document itself would be filed away separately for future reference.

This additional precaution of filing the physical document is not needed if the external party in question can communicate the said organization through digital medium, but the authenticity of his/her digital signature still remains a matter of legal debate in some countries. Hence the information is preserved in both types; digital for easy access, physical for tangible evidence.

In both types of information, there is one operational risk in common; getting lost. For digital information there are several ways to mitigate this risk, creating back-ups and so forth but for physical documents such solutions are very limited and the loss of a physical document can be more serious due to its originality and value.

There are sophisticated tracking systems as a solution to this issue but they have their own weaknesses. Radio Frequency Tagging, Bar Codes, QR codes and other forms of technology that can track physical documents would become quite useless once the documents are carried out of the work place premises.

But with documents placed inside a Fōnder  you would be able to track them anywhere on this planet where mobile phone coverage exists. A Fōnder  can be also improved to comply with GPS navigation. For an organization with several hundred branches in the country, each of them having dozens of separate work sections, Fōnder  would turn out to be a real blessing.
It would easily solve the problem of locating a misplaced physical document with a simple ringtone and user generated text message.

What is it?

Simply put, Fōnder is a Phone plus Folder i.e. basic mobile phone components would be integrated with a common plastic folder to produce a folder that you can track with a telephone call or text message. 

The front side of the front cover of the folder would bear a key board with alpha numeric touch buttons.

To prevent Fōnders being unnecessarily ‘noisy’ (during a meeting where the documents are tabled or when too many people happen to be searching for their Fōnder s together at the same time) a speaker control button can be introduced to toggle between different ringing modes.

It can be set to ‘ringing’ at the place of origin, ‘single beep’ or ‘vibrate only’ at the place of destination and ‘mute’ during meetings and so on.

Fōnder s that belong to a given workplace should emit a ringing tone that is specific to that particular workplace. Better if the Fōnder  can be made to announce the name of the particular workplace to which it belongs. For instance, a Fōnder  that has come from Marketing Section would speak out “Marketing – marketing – marketing” as it is rinquired.

Or in the case of a branch network with several hundred work sections, Fōnder  can sing out the departmental code of that work section.

Back of the front cover would house the ICs, rechargeable battery and SIM slot. 

The Fōnder  should be designed with the same dimensions similar to that of a simple plastic folder. Its front and back covers should not be thicker than that of ordinary files. Thicker it becomes more difficult it would be to handle a Fōnder .
But it should be strongly built to meet the impact of an accidental drop.
Since the Fōnder should ‘stay awake’ as long as possible, low power consumption is an important factor for the product to be a success. Hence, smart phone technology would not be suitable for Fōnder. Basic mobile technology would do.

The inside of the back cover would hold the physical documents. It should have a plastic lock to keep the documents in place.

The documents should only be removed from the Fōnder after getting prior approval from the place of origin.

The Fōnder s should have charging docks to keep them charged when it is required. Charging docks can be kept on tables, cupboards or any other place that is within a reach of AC power outlet.

How does it work?

For easy understanding let us imagine an organization that consists of 3 floors, each of them separated in to 2 work places, altogether 6 work places. A physical document can originate from any of these work places and travel through any of them, ending up at any of them. 
However after getting the job done, all Fōnder s should return to their place of origin with or without the documents in them. In some sense Fōnder s function as taxi cabs; taking in their passengers, transporting them, depositing them at their respective destinations and doubling back to their taxi stand to take in the next set of passengers. 

 Sometimes the passengers would not get off from the taxi. They would return back to where they once started by the same taxi. Whatever can be the fate that awaits the passengers, all taxies should return to their original stand within a reasonable period of time.
This means there is no need to open a new Fōnder  each and every time a new set of documents has to be delivered to another place. Let us say a delivery boy has to carry documents from a workplace twenty times a day. In the first half of the day he would be taking away the Fōnder s from that workplace and in the next half; he would be bringing them in.
Occasionally he may return without a single Fōnder  in his hands or with a lesser amount of Fōnder s he initially took away. Reason may turn out to be that the authorized personnel going through or discussing the contents of the documents in those Fōnder s.   
However every workplace should return the Fōnder s back to where they belong with minimum delay. If the documents are done with, they can be returned to their place of origin within their respective Fōnder s. If the documents have to be permanently kept at the place of destination then the Fōnder s would be returned empty.
There is no point in storing documents along with their Fōnder s. A stored document can be easily traced with numbering, filing systems or RF tagging. The real value behind this idea is to keep track of documents that keep moving from desk to desk or from work place to workplace in a wide region.

Going back to our example, the 6 work places should be number assigned at the start. A notice should be put on display at each of the workplaces providing detailed information of the numbering system. (E.g. Reception Area 01) 

This is not needed if the workplaces are already having their departmental codes.
Then at the place of origin, the physical documents would be placed within a Fōnder and its phone number is recorded in the organization’s computer system. If the particular organization does not depend on a computer system, the phone number can be recorded manually, in their ledgers.
Once the Fōnder starts to wander from hand to hand about the place of origin, it can be located by ‘inquiring it with a ring’ (or by rinquiring). 

But once it leaves the place of origin and out of ear shot, it is the responsibility of the bearer of the Fōnder to ‘return the call’ with a quick text message. 

This quick text message should be sent with a minimum number of steps for sending a text message. ‘Write a new message’ or ‘select recipient’ steps are unnecessary.

For example the Fōnder might be ‘given a ring’ by its place of origin when it passes through the hands of an employee in workplace number 4 and that employee would only have to input 4 and press Y in the Fōnder. The number would be sent (shared) as a reply text message to all persons who gave that Fōnder a ring that day and the day before (optional).

It is the responsibility of the person who is handling a Fōnder to ensure its battery is properly charged and to reply ‘rinquiries’ with least possible delay. Charging docks can be introduced to minimize the burden of charging the Fōnder s.

It would be better to stack the charging Fōnder s on an upright position rather than top of one another. So it would look like this.

Each work place should have its own number of Fōnders (say, a dozen) and maintain an inventory to ensure that all Fōnders are returned back to them after serving as a ‘carrier’ for the physical documents in question.


Fōnder  vs. RF tagging

The key advantage of using Fōnder s is the ability to track documents passing from hand to hand within as well as beyond the organizational premises.   

Fōnder  has a wide tracking coverage because of mobile phone technology which can be commonly used by all organizations. RF tags have limited coverage due to different organizations using different RF technologies.

Mobile phone signals support GPS. RF does not.

Only the specific Fōnder  would respond to a particular rinquiry whereas several RF tags would respond simultaneously when they are searched for by their RF readers.

Since there is a human intervention of verifying the location of a Fōnder  in response to the rinquiries made, there is a sort of ‘assurance’ for the person at the place of origin that the documents he/she dispatched are at the hands of a responsible person. User IDs and passwords can be introduced. In RF tagging liability cannot be placed on anyone.

Synchronizing the rinquiries and replies that occur between the place of origin and the person in charge of the Fōnder, with the help of the mobile service provider, a comprehensive record of movement of the physical documents can be maintained. This would eliminate the need to maintain internal mailing systems within the organization.

Record keeping is possible with RF, but it would not completely replace a mailing system.

Fōnder can venture outside the premises of an organization also. It can travel from branch to branch of an organization, regional wise or country wise, so long as it stays within mobile signal range. At this stage, ‘user ID’s and passwords become compulsory to reduce complications in liability shift. RF tagging has a limited scope in such developments.

Fōnder does not have to stick to its ‘folder’ shape. It can be produced in the form of boxes, bags, or any other way as may the need arise.

Possible issues
An organization may require thousands of Fōnder s to suit their documentation needs. Matters should be arranged with mobile phone service providers to offer an affordable price range, since Fōnder s would be only used for rinquiring and text messaging.