Business Card Technology

Humble business cards might not be at the forefront of technology. However, their continued popularity in the worlds of economics, entrepreneurship and commerce imply that advances in technology are being used to great effect on those little strips of card that often bulge from a sales rep’s pockets or wallet.

Business Card Scanners

Scanners on the market today include the IRISCard Pro Business Card Scanner and the CardScan Business Card Scanner. Many of these devices are portable and can be taken on business trips. They operate much as text-sensitive regular scanners operate, allowing business cards to be scanned into a computer and the information on them converted so that the text can be edited.

Furthermore, the export to a digital format using OCR technology is so precise that some scanners can automatically update address books on most of your computer software. So the details on any of your business cards can be put into Outlook or other address books with the touch of a mouse button or two. The scanners are generally smart enough to recognize the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses on business cards in order to interpret the data correctly before adding it to any database. However, even when it recognizes text that it determines isn’t standard, it can set up a “Miscellaneous” field or something similar to add the unrecognized information which can later be edited.

Many business card scanners are pocket-sized and can be plugged into the USB ports of laptops, so the sales person still in the field can make quick and easy contact with those who have expressed interest in products or services many days before returning to the office. Other business card scanners can be connected to 3G cellular phones, and similarly update address books with contact details on business cards.

Business Cards and the Barcodes of the Future

DENSO Corporation, a Japanese company, has developed the QR Code. This “Quick Response” code is a matrix or two-dimensional barcode. Its developers intended the information contained in any QR code to be decoded at high speed, much as barcode data is interpreted when scanned at the supermarket checkout. The code is popular in Japan. Capable of holding far more information than previous types of barcode, the technology has taken hold, with most Japanese cell phones now equipped with QR code readers as standard that can scan using the phone’s camera lens.

Used as marketing tools in practically every aspect of business in Japan, the QR codes are printed on business cards so that clients, retailers, customers, and buyers can scan the information on the QR code straight into an address book on their mobile technology.

Another technology, color coding, employs similar techniques. Camera phones can scan color codes from distances of ten meters, so scanning color code information onto a cellphone from a business card can be easily done. While the QR code developers charge cellphone manufacturers for the use of their software, the color code developers charge the marketers who want to employ the technology for their advertising purposes, so it is difficult to see which of these technologies (if either) will take hold worldwide. But these are just two of the burgeoning technologies that may be a part of the future of business cards.

Article created on 9/1/2008

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