I'm getting a little tired of the business card. Every time I meet a business contact, we exchange these tiny little paper calling cards. It seems so analog, so archaic in this digital age of cellphones and tablets and e-readers. Why hasn't someone created a way to exchange contact information digitally that works just as easily as handing over a slip of cardboard?
Designer Alan Sien Wei Hshieh thinks he has. Granted, his MelonCard is a purely theoretical concept, but it's packed full of interesting ideas. Each MelonCard consists of a card-size piece of scratch-resistant glass attached to a thin plastic strip that contains all the electronics: flash memory, Bluetooth, and the battery. When you tap MelonCards together, accelerometers onboard automatically exchange digital info. My favorite feature of this concept device: "Users may also be silently notified if the person they are interacting with is someone they have met before to avoid embarrassing situations." Yeah, I think we all could have used that at some point.
Follow the Continue Reading jump for why the MelonCard will never work — and how the world should reinvent the business card for real.
The MelonCard is just a flight of photoshopped fancy and will most likely never get made. For starters, running on Bluetooth would be horribly power-hungry. And it would only work if everyone had one. But it points the way toward how contact information should be exchanged: quickly, digitally and with no trees dying whatsoever. Yes, I'm aware that there are no end to iPhone apps that do pretty much exactly what I've outlined, but if any of them were catching on I think I might have gotten someone offering to "beam me" his or her contact info at least once. So far, nada.
We need some kind of standard that's platform-agnostic and can be built into every kind of cellphone, made to "just work" automatically, and consumes very little power in the exchange. I'm not talking about texting .vcf files — still not convenient enough. Something closer to TransferJet is called for: I touch my cellphone to yours, and they both exchange info, automatically. And it has to be easy and cheap enough for everyone to use it. Any contenders?