Spend a couple of days at a conference or trade-show and it's a certainty that you'll come home with a pile of business cards. It's funny that these vestiges of the analog age persist but they are still popular. They're even getting digital with the use of QR codes on business cards. But what do you do with a pile of business cards? They're a pain to sort through, can't easily be searched and take up space.
The simple answer is scan and digitise them. Business card scanners have been around for a while. They consist of two parts - a piece of hardware that scans the card and some smart software that recognises the text on the cards and converts it into useful information like contact information that can be added to your address book.
Instead of buying a card scanner with its software - a purchase that can set you back more than $150 - you can use the scanner that's in your pocket. Your smartphone has a high resolution camera and there are several apps that can do the recognition job at a far lower price.
CamCard comes in a free "Lite" version and a paid version. The Lite version limits the number of cards you can scan.
The software is easy to use. You shoot a photo of a business card and the software automatically recognises the text and processes the information into address books fields.
We scanned a few cards and found that it did a good job of recognising names, positions and phone numbers. However, it never managed to find a company name meaning we still had some manual processing to do. Also, it didn't manage to get addresses right every time.
CamCard is available on iOS and Android. It costs $7.49 on iOS and $11.99 on Android.
CardSnap takes a slightly different approach. Although it uses the iPhone's camera to shoot photos of business cards, the text recognition isn't done on the phone. The photos are then automatically sent to an online service that recognises the text and sends the information back to you.
The turnaround time for cards to return varied but we found that if we scanned in the evening the cards were back the next morning.
The service works well and the text recognition is quite accurate although we did need to make a few corrections.
CardSnap is available on iOS and costs $15.99.