The Next Generation Of Business Cards -- What Can We Expect?

business cards

Photo: Daniel Blumberg

The piece is a follow up to Smackdown!: Hashable vs. Business Cards. Thanks everyone for your great feedback. So, business cards won the Smackdown, 17-13, mostly on the strength of their reliability, their beauty, and the fact that it’s so much easier to ask for someone’s card than it is to ask if they’d like to Hash. (Hashable allows you to exchange information with people you #justmet through its mobile app or via Twitter.)

The Smackdown was fun, but, truth be told, Hashable should not be in competition with business cards. Rather, it should be preparing for the advent of new, smarter business cards.

The Next Generation Business Card

Many geeks already include QR codes on their cards.

QR codes are those funky square bar codes that you may have seen on subway ads or in magazines. Take a picture of one with your phone and you will get all sorts of content. Our smartphones and Hashable could easily be programmed to ingest this data or, in Hashable’s case, send out a #justmet introduction.

Unfortunately, QR codes are clunky. Taking a picture of a business card – or scanning it with Google Goggles — is only slightly better than the infrared data transfers I used to do with my Palm IIIx back in 2001. (For those who never had the pleasure, you would line up two Palm’s and aim their infrared beams at each other and, after a tortuously slow 30 seconds, — magic! — our contact info swapped devices. It seemed cool at the time!)

NFC Will Be a Game-Changer

What we really want is an instant data transfer. What we want is NFC (near-field communication). Essentially, the next generation of RFID, these tiny radio chips can be embedded in a business card or poster or you name it. When you wave your NFC-enabled smartphone (rumour says iPhone) near the chip, you will connect to the data. It should also enable us to pay for items with our “digital wallets,” a.k.a. our smartphones. (See this WSJ article for more on the battle over “digital wallets.)

Check out this video and you will see that Cisco is already working on the NFC business cards. I want one!

NFC-enabled business cards would provide the best of both worlds. The paper card and all its beauty, along with the digital card’s ease of use and shareability.

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