CES 2008- getting all those business cards into the HP


It is so nice being back at home after the exhausting grind that is the CES and I am finally getting back into the swing of "normal" life.  One of the residual tasks facing me upon my return was getting all of the dozens of business cards I received into my Outlook contacts database.  Entering so many cards into Outlook is no fun no matter how you approach it and I put it off until late yesterday until I remembered something about the HP 2710p Tablet PC that I always forget I can do. 

One of the coolest features of the HP is a utility that is pre-installed called Presto BizCard.  This utility works with the integrated web cam of the HP to digitize business cards photographically into an internal database that can then be synchronized with Outlook.  Since I was confronted with inputting so many cards I decided to give this a whirl and see how well it worked.

BizcardThere is a tiny slot on the front of the 2710p (laptop mode) just above the screen latch where you insert a business card.  With BizCard running you hit a button to snap a card and a preview window appears with a red box imposed on it to show where the card needs to be for interpretation.  All you do is start to close the screen slowly and when the web cam, which has been switched to macro mode, gets the right distance from the card you hear a series of beeps that tells you a photo of the card is about to be snapped.  When BizCard snaps the card you hear a camera shutter sound and you can open the screen back up to see what it’s done.  In a few seconds BizCard then does a text recognition of the business card and opens an editing window so minor corrections can be made.  There are always a few edits needed since every business card is so different but it is overall accurate in determining not only the text on the card but putting the different items into the appropriate field such as "mobile phone".  BizCard keeps its own database that includes the interpreted cards and also the photos of the cards which is a handy reference that lets you throw the card away.  Once I had a bunch of cards processed and edited I then told BizCard to export them to Outlook which took only a minute.  It was very cool and much easier than trying to enter all of these cards manually.  This is a very practical use of cool technology and I am very glad that HP included it with the 2710p.


Scott in Austin

As a recent owner of the 2710p (due in no small part to this blog, thank you James) I like Presto concept, but the UI looks a little Windows 3.1ish. One thing I thought about doing was using the macro feature of the webcam to snap a picture of a biz card directly in One-Note, but for some reason “Insert…Pictures from Scanner or Camera” doesn’t recognize the 2710p webcam. Anyone try this?


Why are 2D barcodes with all of our contact information not standard in the industry? It wouldn’t cost anything more than current printing and could solve the problem of errors in OCR. To scan a card could just it up to a webcam and move it forward until the computer beeped to say it had read the data.

Where is the standard for this?


What ever happened to beaming contact info…don’t all of our phones just accept beamed contact files? I realize since I am in the business world as well that business cards are the accepted way to do things at meetings, but at CES, you would think that some cooler technology would be taking place there with all the contacts that you would be making… just a thought, or rant, or whatever..

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