Business cards have been used for hundreds of years to exchange information. And for hundreds of years they’ve remained the same boring rectangular pieces of paper. But now a sophisticated breed of business cards with tech-enhanced features has emerged.
From scannable bar codes to full-blown interactive experiences, the following tech-enhanced business cards make it easier (and more fun) to exchange information. Some of these high-tech cards are still in the concept phase — and have been for years with no fruition in sight — which indicates that enhancing business cards with high-tech features could be just a passing trend. Only time will tell. One major hang up is that all of these business cards require the recipient to use or have access to the same technology the card uses. Without mass consumption, your business card could be virtually useless. But at the very least, it will be novel enough that it never gets thrown away.
Here’s a look at some of the innovative ways you can modernize your business card and make it stand out from the deck.
Make It Interactive
Turn your business card into an interactive experience by making it compatible with Microsoft Surface, a new computing platform that turns ordinary tabletops into interactive surfaces. Surface’s computing technology moves beyond the typical touch screen by allowing users to “grab” and manipulate digital information by using their finger as a mouse. It also comes with object recognition so that objects placed on Surface trigger different digital responses. That’s where Amnesia Razorfish comes in. The Australian company turned Surface into a giant business-card reader by printing Surface “tags” on their employees’ business cards. When the business cards are placed on Surface, the user can access information about the employee, including the employee’s recent blog posts, Twitter tweets, and Flickr photos. See a demonstration here.
Make It Scannable
Print a scannable bar code on your business card containing all the information you couldn’t fit in the rectangle. Several downloadable applications are available that can turn just about any mobile phone into a QR code reader. QR code is known as the “new” bar code, but unlike a traditional bar code it can carry several hundred times as much information and can be placed on a Web site or in print. When you place a QR code on your business card, recipients can aim a camera at the code and instantly save your information on their phone with no typing involved.
Here’s a list of just some of the downloadable applications that make scanning business cards possible:
- BeeTagg: It’s compatible with Apple, Blackberry, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, and more.
- i-nigma Reader: It can be used with Cingular, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon LG, Vodafone, and more.
- Kaywa Reader: It works with Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Symbian.
- ScanLife: It’s compatible with Alltel, Android, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Palm, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Windows Mobile.
Turn It Into A USB Storage Drive
Who says the business information you give out has to be limited to your name, number, e-mail, and Web site? With a USB business card, such as the concept M++Card, you can hand over your company brochure, a set of PDFs, your entire portfolio, and more along with the usual business card info. The M++Card combines a business card with memory storage by attaching a USB adapter to the back of the card that can be removed, snapped onto the edge of the business card, then plugged into a computer to download company information.
Turn It Into A High-Tech Handshake
The “fist bump” is moving from the streets and into the boardroom with Bump, a free iPhone application by Bump Technologies. Instead of passing out a business card, you and the person you just met open Bump on your iPhones and literally bump your hands together (while holding phones) to exchange contact info that’s directly saved into your address book. Bump currently works exclusively with iPhones, but other compatible devices are in the works. For 99 cents you can also download Nameo, a similar application that works by holding two iPhones together and pressing “Connect” to exchange virtual business cards.