Despite being fully in the digital era and aiming towards a paperless office, we are still very much dependent on traditional methods of communication and printed materials – pamphlets, banners and of course – business cards. Even in a casual setting, sending a Bluetooth business card is still more hassle than simply handing one over in physical form.
One thing we can be thankful for is that we’re no longer dependent on physical contact books and rolodoxes for finding who we need to talk to. Most of us will add the information straight into our e-mail clients or mobile phones. This is where Abbyy’s Business Card Reader comes in handy.
The software itself is very simple. When loaded up you are presented with your standard camera screen, with a white box to guide you where the business card should be. This is where our first complaint lies – it assumes the use of landscape business cards. Although this is traditional, there were several in our card collection that weren’t. It is possible to still photograph these, but the results weren’t as good.
Once this picture is taken it uses technology called OCR (Optical Character Recognition). This is quite commonly used with scanners. Essentially the software tries to recognise individual characters in the image as a digital representation. In this case, it recognises the details from the business card and create a relevant contact for your mobile phone. What fields you choose to store is of course customisable to your needs and it’ll even support multiple languages.
The character recognition was largely reliable, but is dependent on the quality of your camera, flash and the design of the card. High contrast black on white text was almost spot on every time, but the dark grey on green was tricky. You can take as many goes as you need and often a 2nd or 3rd attempt, usually to get the lighting better, is all that is needed to get perfect results. Any characters it’s not entirely sure about are highlighted in red, so you can double check them before adding them to your contact database. We often find cards are crumpled up in our back pockets and even these worked pretty well.
The technology itself is pretty good and the for the money (£2.95 for one month, £9.95 for one year) you won’t find much better. Whether this is the speediest method is questionable, but there is a one day free trial available – so try it out for yourself.
|Ease of use:|
Platform: Symbian S60
Version of software: 2.0
Price: £9.95 a year
Website/Demo: Abbyy website