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Business Card Reader for BlackBerry Smartphones

By Ryan Blundell on 24 Feb 2010 03:29 pm EST
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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.

About Business Card Reader

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.

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Main Menu

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:

Take a Photo

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.

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Handy tips before you take a picture

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.

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Scanning image
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If I had a business card, the result would look like this

Select a Picture

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.

Settings

In the settings menu, you can select the supported language, the volume of the applications notification, image scaling and image compression (percentage).

Support & About (or is it aboot?)

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.

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Application info

Conclusion

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.

Pros

  • eliminates the need to save cards
  • saves you the trouble of manually inputting contact info

Cons

  • Your BlackBerry needs to have auto focus

More Info

Reader comments

Business Card Reader for BlackBerry Smartphones

48 Comments

Pretty cool. It would be nice if it picked up the info without such specific requirements. I'd love to be able to scan it on the spot. (I work in the music industry so on the spot is usually at a club, theatre, etc.) A trial would have been great.

Contest for us to have a chance to win this? A trial would be nice if they can be convinced to allow one. I wont buy it without trying it first.

Think they're gonna lose a ton of business due to no trial...

A product like this is all about how well it works when you personally try it. Nothing else matters. Hopefully someone from them is reading this...

Did you try their website, and download it there? Downloaded version 1.0 and had a 7 day trail. (dunno about 1.1)

Works fine, even with strange cards!

Website allows you to download the file but you can't use it without a registration code. As others have stated - FREE TRIAL REQUIRED!!! This is not a one-time use app, so there is no reason for not providing a free trial to see how the app works with our individual BBs. Provide a free trial and many sales will be made.

This is probably one of the few blackberry apps i would actually pay for.

But without a trial period ( 7 day or even 1 day).... no way im buying...

Hoping to hear more from people who take the plunge....

There are a few good business card readers out there, and without debating the merits of them, (I personally use CardSnap) there is one thing to keep in mind...

There is a learning curve training yourself to take a good snapshot of the business card in a quick manner. Until you accomplish this, no matter which app you use, with the first couple dozen attempts you could have probably entered the information manually quicker than the amount of time it takes to snap the pic, wait for the OCR server to interpret it, then verify yourself that the info is correct.

All the more reason an app like this should have a trial. Some people (like a buddy of mine) never seem to get it down, and never get much use out of the app.

I currently use Ambir Scanner for Outlook. I am then able to sync the contact information with my Pocket Informant for Blackberry. I would be very interested in what others think of this option since I am not always conveniently at my desktop when I need to scan contact information. Is anyone using this?

I use a Cardscan scanner, and it is excellent. There are certain tasks that, even still, are better performed by dedicated hardware/software solutions than by something like a Blackberry. The scans are fast, and the OCR is dependent on your computer, not the small processor in the Blackberry.

That said, this is an intriguing application. Evernote can be neat, but not syncing those cards to your Outlook address book is a limiting factor for me.

One of the nice things about keeping the cards in a card file is being able to go through regularly and weed out the dead/changed contacts. I've got 800 or so in my file, and pare it down about twice a year. Doing it with the physical cards seems easier than staring at the screen for that process. you can pull out the useless cards for several names, delete them on the system and recycle them. Maybe i'm just old.

I use Evernote for business cards - snap a picture, email it to your account and it is imaged and searchable in Evernote. It's not as slick as getting the information into contacts accurately but it is free and gets rid of the old rolodex.

i'd probably try it if their ad wasn't the worst photoshop job i've ever seen, part of the hand is missing and the finger is freakishly long.

okay...i'm not one to just throw money around but this seems like something that is worth the chance. I have CardScan and when I first got it scanned in like 400 cards. And then I bought the BB app to sync it to my BB. But I have a stack of cards sitting here because it's a hassle to constantly break out my CardScan scanner, scan it, edit it in the CardScan APP and THEN sync it to my BB. So it would be great if I could just scan cards directly into my phone and cut out the other 2-3 steps. Especially when I'm on the road, in between calls, etc... I will get this and report back.

It does not work and when I wanted a refund Shape offered to have me use a credit to purchase something else from them. Not my idea of good customer service. I took crystal clear photos of cards and got maybe 1 or 2 correct translations from the OCR. Not 1 or 2 correct card translations but 1 or 2 line/word translations per card I tried. My opinion is that this is simply not ripe yet.

Pros:
It works on my tour without any issues
pictures are clean and clear
Take in all info on cards wihtout issue

Cons:
it sometimes fills in with random junk
it saves the photo you took to yoru memory card

really the most annoying one is the saving of the pictures, couldn't the program make it's own folder to save the pictures in so you have them all there for a quick re chekc if you need it?

...and it's asking me to register a license or buy online. Did you have to go through that? I have no license #. I paid $10 for this app and it's asking me to now buy a license?

Don't app developers know that no trial = no sale? Or are they going for dumb newbs who simply press the buy button?

I am disappointed :(

Bought the app without trialin

In the confirmation mail, I got a link that is not compatible to my storm. For 2 hours now, I am trying to get the right version running, so dont gibe this a try at work :D

And ..... this is probably why there is no trial!

Anderl

this app is definately not working on my storm out of the box.

Contacted their Tech Support and I am promised an answer in 2 days.

Lets see how fast those guys are, I will keep you posted.

Anderl

Ok, 2.5h later I got it to run and it works pretty smooth.

The download provided in the confirmation mail is not for a touchscreen. Goto their homepage and download from there.

Looks like a very useful application but will not purchase without a trial to verify that it works as advertised.

Especially with some complaints already seen, there must be a trial period. There is no excuse for apps that cost this much not having a trial. This software has a ton of potential and I would pay more than $10, if it works. But I have to find out first. Even if a few other 9700 users try it and report, I'll buy; but not until then.

I bought it for my 9700 and so far, it hasn't worked well. The information was WAY off on the first business card I scanned. The second one was closer but still would require several edits ... would be just as easy to enter in the information manually from scratch. Not a good experience so far.

Being in Marketing I have my hands on Business cards ALL the time. This does a great job of transmitting data. Will cards that are extremely fancy it has a harder time disiminating data, but overall this is a great app, real time saver.

I would pay $20 for this app if I could try it before I buy it.

1 day trial 7 day trial or even 50 cards would work. Just so I could see for myself if it works for ME and the way I would use it.

Please give us a trial!

I took a picture of one business card, then it locked up and won't exit the menus. The menus are small and the buttons don't work.

Wish I could get a refund.

I took a picture of one business card, then it locked up and won't exit the menus. The menus are small and the buttons don't work.

Wish I could get a refund.

Having played around with this app, it is actually a nice app! I impressed my colleauge with his iPhone :) That was already worth the investment of USD 10 hheeheh ;)

P.S. NO1 from their tech support has contacted me yet!

I bought it.
I regret it.

App misses numbers in phone numbers, even when the business card is clearly legible.

Their support staff takes days to reply to an e-mail.

Any idea how long it take for a good image? I am having a hard time on the qr code in the blackberry messenger. It takes darn long to read the image.

I purchased this 3 weeks ago and VERY POOR support.

Has NEVER worked on my Bold 9700.

IF you are optimistic and have nothing better to do other than enjoy get frustrated with their "custimer support" Try it?

I am using CF 2.0 - the newest app on http://cardfila.com for my iPhone. I find it so convenient and cheap. I even can easily search card photos without internet connection. I have not yet applied it for Blackberr. You can try it on your phone.