This is an idea that is long overdue – a USB device server:
IOGEAR today announced the release of its USB Net ShareStation, which enables network sharing of USB devices, including speakers and webcams.
The ShareStation (GUIP201) has a single USB 2.0 port, but can be connected to an AC powered four-port USB hub to support up to four devices. Devices supported include hard and flash drives, memory card readers, multifunction printers in addition to webcams and USB speakers.
This is a game-changer in terms of home network layout. Now, you can conceivably have a single network closet with your router, printer, external hard drives, etc and access them all freely iwth any laptop. There are various ways to do the same thing with other methods, such as printer sharing on a windows workgroup, a print server, a NAS, etc but this new device lets you do it all much mroe easily and with existing hardware.