ABBYY Card Reader – Bin those business cards

ABBYY Card Reader – Bin those business cards

Tim Corke

Tim Corke is the resident application reviewer for Mobile Business Magazine. Tim is marketing director and co-founder of Tracktech, a B2B communications company and software development specialist. He is currently focused on Tracktech’s award-winning, Mastercardcertified BlackBerry software, eMERIT, which allows credit card processing on a single device. Tracktech is Tim’s third start up company.

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Success in this industry can rely very heavily on strong relationships built over time and across all the different elements within the channel. We have all been to countless shows, events, seminars, dinners and networking opportunities. The quantity of these that require our attendance are surpassed several times over by the volume of business cards that end up filling out pockets, folders and laptop bags.

Pocket scanner

I suspect most people are in the same situation that I am whereby there is, near to their desk, a huge folder or drawer that is bursting at the seams with business cards collected over a period of some years. These cards contain an absolutely invaluable level of information across the channel and can provide us with the level of contacts that we need to contact just about anyone we are required to.

However, how to keep an accurate and permanent record of that information is another matter altogether.

ABBYY, already a provider of document recognition, data capture and linguistic software, recently announced the worldwide availability of its Business Card Reader 2.0 for Nokia smartphones running on Symbian S60. The new application transfers contact information from business cards directly to the mobile phone’s address book by using the smartphone camera and ABBYY’s text recognition technology. It helps people save the time and effort typically spent on typing in names, phone numbers, emails and other key information.

Simple snaps

To add new contacts, users simply start the program on their device and take

a picture of a business card. The software then reads this picture, automatically extracts contact data and enters the information into the appropriate fields of the mobile address book.

As with the Tube Map application, this may sound incredibly simple, but is really very clever and is something that frees up those valuable extra minutes in every single day of our working lives. The key is using ‘dead time’ (maybe while on the tube) to take action on all those business cards that have been collected at the event you have just attended.

The accuracy and intelligence the application delivers when extracting contact information from images of business cards is really pretty impressive. You can get all the key information from business cards quickly saved in to your contacts list, rather than just the names and phone numbers that one would normally take the time to enter manually.


Multi lingual

The software currently recognises business cards in 16 languages including English, German, French, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Indonesian, Norwegian (both Bokmal and Nynorsk), Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Therefore any international meetings and events are easily catered for as well.

The app has a pretty straightforward interface suitable for touchscreen, QWERTY and ‘normal’ mobile keypad based smartphones. On-device tips’n’tricks are also included to make sure you get the most accurate results when using the camera in different conditions and the app also automatically monitors the camera lens and includes controls for the flash.

A detailed list of supported devices is available from the ABBYY website, but the basics are that the device must be running Symbian OS S60 v.9.1 to v.9.4 and a camera with two megapixels or higher.

The app will initially be sold via the online store and through ABBYY’s partners


where users can choose a time-limited or full license to run the program. As we have all come to expect from new applications coming on to the market, there is also a free trail available for download as well.

In summary, I believe this is an app may seem a little unusual to many readers, but it really will help save more of your valuable time and we all know that the most critical business card you wanted to look at is, almost invariably, the one that went in the pocket of a suit to the dry cleaners!

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