The Chinese startup Maketion has released a suitably primp and business-like app called Pulse Business Card, for iPhone and Android, which can do some remarkably magical scanning.
Claiming a 100 percent success rate at recognizing and saving contact data from your business cards, it does all this with the user just pressing one button – the camera’s shutter. After that, the Pulse app spends about one or two minutes sifting through the image and putting the contact details in the right categories. When done, your new business associate is now in your phone, ready to be called, emailed, or messaged with just another click. The UI, all expensive-looking leather and virtual stitching, is pleasant and well thought out.
It does all this using OCR, which in this case works great for both English and Chinese, turning an image of a card into proper text and info that you can use within your phone.
I tested it out on a pile of business cards – accumulated at the fun TC Disrupt Beijing event last November – that I’d been putting off entering into my phone in the usual, laborious, manual way. I found that in terms of actually reading names and figuring numbers, the app was indeed totally accurate, which is genuinely impressive. But a few other glitches, like a missing logo here and there (as seen pictured right) and the inability to make manual edits, made it not exactly perfect. One other issue is that it got confused by my mostly bilingual cards when both sets of details were on the same side – that’s one area where I’d like to be able to choose which contact name to use.
Nonetheless, the app is still in its infancy, and should be given time to add a bit of finesse. I tested out the Android version, which is very new, and not the iOS variant which has already been bumped up to v2.0.
The app is in Chinese-only, and has a neat optional login for extra features, such as secure backup of contact data in the cloud. But it does most stuff without a sign-up. I’ve not found anything similar for free in the Android Market from international devs, so this is a welcome newcomer, especially as the app looks great.
Find the free Pulse Business Card apps for iPhone and Android on the homepage.