The Business Card

Just past the outer boundaries of my short-term memory, I posted in the Studio about cutting-edge tools around the antiquated concept of the business card. While it is indeed a concept that has been around for more than a century – back in the very old day, people employed them for personal use as calling cards – recent developments have catapulted them past the present and straight into the future. I discussed some of that cool card tech in that earlier post (link here).

Rather than rehash that tech, I thought it might be interesting to share with you the apps / non-apps that I am currently using to pass my contact information. My tool belt holds three items: Bump; Cardreader; and, some beautiful, old-fashioned, paper cards.

Bump (site link here ) is an app that was suggested in the comments to my original post and I really love it. Until recently, its only limitation was that you needed another iPhone user to take advantage of it. With its most recent update, it works with Android phones too! And since Apple and Google will soon be taking over the world, Bump should become ubiquitous.

From their site, Bump:

is a quick and easy way to connect two phones by simply bumping them together. Exchange your phone number, photos, or compare friends with just a bump.

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There are two parts to Bump: the app running on your device and a smart matching algorithm running on our servers in the cloud. The app on your phone uses the phone’s sensors to literally “feel” the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then we just route information between the two phones in each pair.

It really does work! You can send your own contact information, or you can attach a contact from your phone and send it to someone else. So easy- with very few exceptions, Bump has worked perfectly for me. App store link here.

Check out the demo video below:

Next up is Cardreader (site link here). This is a recent download of mine. For people who still believe in the old-fashioned, paper-style contact herald, Cardreader can get that information into your iPhone with relatively little effort.

Cardreader is essentially a mobile scanner. It works best on an iPhone 3GS, as it makes full use of that phone’s auto-focus function. The tech employed is pretty impressive: it uses a real OCR engine – the ABBYY Mobile OCR Engine. It does not send the information to a web server for processing – all processing is done locally within the app so there are no worries about sensitive contact data being shared.

Open the Cardreader app, and it shows a list of contacts with images to the left. The little “i” at the bottom opens up the settings, where you can access FAQ and Instructions, set shake protections, set dictionaries, toggle image enhancement, camera lock, perspective card view, and reset settings. There is a little business card icon at the top right. Click on that icon and the camera opens. Camera view is overlaid with the words “top” and “bottom” so you can allign the card properly. Take a picture of the business card you want to import (you also can select one from your iPhone photo album). The data is read through the OCR processor and you are given the ability to edit and save. When done, the information and picture are synced with the address book and stored in contacts.

As if this wasn’t cool enough, you can browse visually through your address book using the built in 3D card view feature, which looks suspiciously like iTunes Cover Flow. This feature alone might make the app worth the $5.99 price.

I have taken several card pictures with it. The more challenging the card layout, the greater the likelihood of errors requiring correction. I have to say that I am mostly impressed with the results. Below is a picture of a card I took that sucked up the information flawlessly – no edits necessary:

My feeling on Cardreader is that it is a fantastic implementation of iPhone technology that serves a very useful purpose for business professionals. App store link here.

Last but not least, I want to show off my new paper cards. I performed some crowdsourced investigation of the opinions shared by my social media friends and came up with this fantastic on-line printing company, Moo Cards (U.S. site link here). Moo prints custom business cards, mini cards, post cards and greeting cards using your uploaded artwork or one of their scads of gorgeous designs. Speaking of gorgeous, let’s talk about their card stock and print quality. It is to die for. The web interface worked beautifully (that has not been my universal experience with online printers and photo production) and service was fast and perfect. And they are a very reasonable price for full-color, two-sided graphics.

I cannot rave enough about these cards. I created my information graphic and uploaded it. I then selected a series of 11 diferent backgrounds from their design library. My cards arrived with glorious color, each with a different design on the back. Although my image below does not do them justice, this will give you an idea of how beautiful they are:

My “card” arsenal is now complete!

What are you using?