For all of SXSW’s cutting edge digital technology, the primary connection tool is still a paper product: the business card. Post-conference, participants may spend spend hours imputing contact info and responding via email. As a solution, two business card apps, Blinx and Hashable, will help network-hungry entrepreneurs ditch the antiquated model of exchanging tiny rectangular slices of printed paper. For those who have returned from the conference, Cardmunch will help digitally archive them accurately, based on pictures of card sent to a human transcriber.
Blinx facilitates contact information sharing through SMS messages that automatically download into a smartphone’s contact database. Users text a pre-determined five-digit phone number with a short code, such as "greg," and are sent a customized list of business card information (email, title, cell, etc.).
SMS business cards are nothing new, but Blinx has patented the process of having this message automatically downloaded into the phone’s contacted database via a widely recognized card file format called Vcard. And, unlike previous SMS or app attempts, Blinx web client keeps track of who and when SMS requests were sent to the system for easy recall. Blinx officials tell Fast Company that the "automatic download" feature won’t be available until April, and an iPhone app is currently on the company’s to-do list.
Also, we aren't sure how far Blinx's patent extends, since other businesses are already transmitting business card info through SMS. Blinx claims the patent is for "Transmitting business cards through SMS or MMS," according to an email sent to Fast Company. With or without the patent, the process of automatic database integration is still novel.
For social butterflies who need the additional feature of sharing contacts within their network, Hashable has a slick iPhone interface for easy sharing info over Twitter and through email introductions. Hashable will tweet of the new contact and reference it by the meeting location or keep the meeting private between an inner circle of friends. Additionally, email introductions are a simple with four-step process: select "make an intro" on the iPhone landing page, click the first recipient, then the second recipient, and a customizable email is setup in the iOS mailing system. Finally, Hashable activity and features are also available through their website.
For those readers who returned from SXSW with a stack of business cards taller than the Sears Tower, Cardmunch is an efficient way to digitally archive them. The app sends out a picture of the card to be manually imputed by an actual human being. The data can then be emailed to oneself or exported into a CVS format for easy integration into Gmail or Outlook.