We are surrounded by text everywhere: window signs, commercial logos and phone numbers plastered on trucks, flyers, take-away menus - and yet to capture and use all this information we essentially resort to typing these phone numbers and web sites manually into a phone or computing device. We thought we should help change that, with the help of the mobile phone camera and OCR applications extracting the relevant textual information in these images. In fact, Google thought so as well! You can read about their recent unveiling of Google Goggles on the Android mobile platform.
Our first product, ScanBizCards Business Card Reader specifically targets the OCR of business cards because we sensed a significant business need for this ability, enabling mobile professionals to instantly transform a business card into actionable information within their address book, exported into a spreadsheet or directly into a CRM application - or share on the web with colleagues.
April 2012 UPDATE: we just released our new ambitious application Power Contacts - aiming to fill the many gaps in the native contacts manager, then follow with many more increasingly powerful features. At this time Power Contacts already provides solid value such as sorting contacts in various ways including by creation or usage date, retrieving deleted contacts in a trash can, keeping a history of all interactions and setting follow-up reminders around contacts in one touch. iOS only for now, check it out on the App Store.
We launched ScanBizCards V1.0 on October 28, 2009 on the iPhone and have been busily adding one feature after another (see complete list at www.scanbizcards.com) above and beyond just scanning a card and adding the information into the address book - scanning a card is just the beginning or a potential fruitful new rapport and we'd like to help networkers and business professionals make these connections happen faster and easily. Special thanks go to J Grant Design for putting a friendly look on our techie work and implementing our entire web-based backup and card management application.
February 20, 2011 Update:ScanBizCards released on Android devices
January 26, 2012 Update: ScanBizCards released on Windows Phone
We'll let you decide whether scanning an image of a business card in seconds then just touching a phone number to dial it qualifies as augmented reality, meanwhile it's pretty useful and is a sure way to impress your friends at a cocktail party!
Check out the ScanBizCards Blog discussing updates to the ScanBizCards iPhone and Android application.
At the time of this writing, the competition for leadership in business card iPhone scanning applications is fierce, with usually 3 or 4 such applications within the top 20 iPhone apps in the business category, all of which doing an excellent job at scanning a card image quickly and letting you add the text recognized into a new contact in your address book. What truly sets ScanBizCards apart is that "scanning & adding to the address book" is the end of the road with all other apps - for us "scanning is only the beginning" and we offer a long list of extended features to managed and act on scanned cards. The gist of these features is:
- Manage: enable the user to retain and manage the card images as such, along with the recognized text: business cards serve as visual cues to remind us who the contact is and where we met, they contain much more information than just what we chose to include in the address book. ScanBizCards presents options to store cards in custom folders, sort them by name/company/date, flip though them in list view of "cover flow" 3D view and search all cards for text.
- Act: empower the user to act on a new card on the spot and without leaving the app: send a Quick Intro email with one's own contact info, forward the information to a colleague, set a calendar follow-up reminder, send a LinkedIn invite, export to Excel CSV or directly to Salesforce.com
- Cloud Sync: an optional feature we call "Web Sync" instantly saves each new card to the cloud for safekeeping and lets users access their cards from anywhere via the browser. Web Sync also allows keeping multiple devices in sync in real-time.
- Export: scanned cards may be exported to an Excel CSV (to import for example into a CRM back-end like Salesforce.com, ACT or Sugar CRM) or uploaded to Evernote.
IMPORTANT: if you need the ability to scan business cards within your own mobile apps, please contact us for help. The first thing we recommend for your consideration is to simply have ScanBizCards do it for you - within two hours of work, you can insert a simple call to ScanBizCards requesting to take a photo, scan it and send the results back to your app. It's really that simple and feels to the user very much like a single integrated app ... please contact us for more info. You can test this model out on iOPS devices as follows:
- Install ScanBizCards from the App Store
- Install Power Contacts from the App Store
- Start Power Contacts, tap the "+" button on the main contacts tab, select "Scan Business Card" - see what happens
We would love to hear your thoughts on what other OCR applications you'd like to see on mobile devices, including possible joint developments - please contact us.