A cluetab's purpose is to bond two objects together in situations where strong contact at one or more points suffices but a complete merging of surfaces is not desirable. Examples would be a picture frame on a wall, a chair fixed to a deck, or a semi-permanent add-on piece of machinery attached to a console or desk. Cluetabs are found in many different forms and designs, but the most common types are featureless grey round tabs about 1 centimeter in diameter and 1 to 2 millimeters thick, stacked in a 5 to 10 centimeter long stick. The cluetab contains a batch of nanobots, a high power energy source and a simple electronic interface/control center.
For ease in handling, the cluetab bonds lightly to the skin or other surface of a user or the user's tools if light pressure is applied to either side, enabling it to be picked up merely by pressing on it with a finger (or equivalent). If the other side of the cluetab is pressed against something, it will release its grip on one side and grip with the other, moving it from the manipulatory appendage to, say, a wall. Finally the back is touched with a cluedriver. In its basic form a cluedriver is a small hand tool approximately the size of a matchstick. Many cyborgs or vecs who use cluetabs on a regular basis have a cluedriver built into the end of a digit.
When activated by the cluedriver the tab expends its energy into the nanobots, which quickly burrow into the object on which the cluetab was applied. The nanobots dig, carefully rebuilding the material behind them as they go, until they meet the surface between the two objects (often recognized by the thin layer of air between the two objects, but any other definition may be programmed into the tabs). There they quickly bond the two objects together. The process usually takes less than a second.
With standard cluetabs the bonding is permanent, but some cluetabs can be commanded to detach, and may even be reusable.