Last week a friend ordered a Poken for me as a present. This triggered a discussion over business cards and why we still use plain old paper cards in this digital age.
The problem is an old one: how do you keep in touch with people you recently met? You need some way to exchange personal information in an easy, unobtrusive way. Business cards are a great answer to that problem: it's fast to exchange, cheap enough to hand out, universally accepted and portable. That's great but isn't it a waste of resources to print something digital on a piece of paper and have someone on the other side input the data in a system... again? Not to mention the errors this process generates: how do I interpret a Japanese address, is it his first- or last name, I would like a photo as well, have I met this person before?
Filip argued that Pokens or E could be the answer. Pokens are small plastic RFID readers. High five your Poken against another one to exchange your details and the next time you log on to your social network sites your profiles will be linked. E uses the same idea but focuses on the software side: you can create multiple profiles and exchange details via an internet-enabled mobile phone. They have an RFID device - called ‘Conntector’ - in the pipeline.
While these services look promising I don't think it will be the answer. Sure, these things are focused on social networking profiles and may be just fine for their target audience but that won't cut it. Why not?
My shot for a possible solution: the disposable RFID business card. It still needs a flashy name and ditto logo but here is the idea: combine the old business card with RFID. What if we would embed an RFID chip in a plain old business card?
What do we need? I'm not sure but maybe RFID tags are still too expensive to throw away? With prices around $0.50 it's still a little too expensive if you add the price of the business card. RFID chips are designed to be thrown away (look at packaging) so I suppose prices will drop. People also need an RFID reader but that's just a matter of time. More and more companies start providing RFID readers: Violet and tikitag amongst them.
What do you think? Will we replace business cards in the near future and if so, how will it successor look like?
This post is open source. Did you spot a mistake? Ideas for improvements? Contribute to this post via Github. Thank you!