My Card. Your Card. His Card. Her Card. Ouch! Paper cut. With business cards being passed around like playing cards, it’s difficult to keep them organized. Sure it’s a quick way to share your information, but not everyone likes to carry them around. I’ve seen people who have literally gathered binders that, instead of displaying baseball cards, display business cards. I wondered if they had autographed ones in a special case. When it comes to that level of business cards, it becomes overwhelming and accessibility seems to disappear. A time consuming, thumb blistering alternative would be to input them into your native address book. A few months ago, we looked at a mobile business card application called DUB. While it was thoroughly impressive, one problem had come to mind - Not everyone uses it.
Before your Rolodex decides to roll away, you should take a look at Business Card Reader. As the name suggests, this application enables users to read and decipher images of business cards, then sent directly to your BlackBerry address book. Now you can spend less time entering in contacts and spend more time making contact! If you are as intrigued about its accuracy as I was, I suggest you read on.
The Business Card Reader Application was made possible by the good people at SHAPE Services. They are also behind a long list of useful applications that include; IM+ for both Skype and mobile messaging, the track master GPSed, the media playing Mobiola xPlayer and even the Mobiola Screen Capture and Snapshot application that I use to capture screenshots for my reviews. According to their website, Business Card Reader is supported by the Tour, Curve 8900, Storm, Storm 2 and Bold 9700. I would assume that this is strictly due to the camera specifications, meaning it requires the 3.2MP and autofocus. It may be possible for hi resolution images of business cards to be used, so other models could make some use out of Business Card Reader as well. The file size of Business Card Reader is 1.3 MB and its current version is 1.1. Currently, the application is equipped to read cards in English, French, Italian, Spanish and German.
The menu layout of Business Card Reader appears to be designed to resemble a leather bound organizer. The main menu buttons are beautifully represented as file business cards nestled in their respective pockets; with the tops of each card displaying a function. These cards will pop up slightly as you scroll over them - indicating which function you are about to select. The majority of the sub menus will appear as though they are on a spiral notepad. It has an easy to use interface and is also crisp and vivid. It’s definitely far more organized than my wallet. Let’s have a look at each of the options found on the main menu:
They say the camera adds about 10 pounds, but so does over 1500 cards. Once this option is selected, the application automatically opens up your native camera app. Before you get the business card to smile for the birdie, the application does offer some handy tips:
- Make sure your BlackBerry isn’t connected to your computer.
- Place the card in question on a flat surface and try not to hold it.
- Ensure there is proper lighting (sunlight or a desk lamp) and turn off your Cameras flash. This will reduce the risk of glare.
- Switching to Black & White mode may decrease the time it takes to scan the image. Also make sure to increase the picture size to above 640x 480.
- Steady hands folks, steady hands.
Once you’ve snapped the picture, Business Card Reader then goes into “scan” mode. Using Data capture and Linguistic software developer ABBYY’s OCR technology, the application can recognize the text scanned. The text is then placed into the appropriate fields, as used by your native address book (email address, company name, title, website, etc). You will be notified of the results of the scan by a tone and your LED flashing .The contact information is displayed in the application and not automatically saved. Spelling mistakes may occur if the image isn’t clear. Luckily, you can edit the contact details before you choose to import it to the address book.
Prior to Business Card Reader, you may have already captured images of business cards. From the application, you can search for the images (from your device memory or the micro SD card) and have them scanned as well. So, you can quickly capture a corkboard full of cards in seconds (one at a time of course) and easily scan them later.
In the settings menu, you can select the supported language, the volume of the applications notification, image scaling and image compression (percentage).
This section allows you to scan through the applications FAQ, as well as submit feedback or a support request. You can also share your experiences with a friend or check out other applications offered by SHAPE services.
So, do you think that Business Card Reader will help you recycle those unnecessary business cards and keep your contacts easily accessible? I think so too. While it is possible to use the application with other BlackBerry models, you won’t be able to fully appreciate it unless you are toting auto focus. Being able to easily add contacts without having to type out all of the information is incredibly handy. You can pick up Business Card Reader for $9.95 from the CrackBerry App Store; no free trial available.