Your Smartphone's Touchscreen Can Read These Magical Business Cards

People complain about having to use antiquated business cards to pass along contact details, but they're not going away anytime soon. So instead of complaining, the folks at TouchBase simply found a way to make business cards smarter. To access someone's contact info, all you need to do is tap these business cards on your smartphone's display.

And you're probably assuming that NFC or wireless RFID technology is making this a reality, so you're limited to what phone you can use—but it's not. In fact, you'll notice that's an NFC-lacking iPhone used in that demo. Instead, the TouchBase cards—which feel exactly like any other business card—are embedded with a distinct pattern of conductive ink that mimics a multi-touch gesture on a smartphone's display.

The cards are read using an online web app—not an app you have to download to your device—making it platform agnostic. Although, at the moment, it's really only designed to work with the iPhone, but support for other devices is coming soon.

The business cards have to be purchased through TouchBase specifically, so that the company can ensure that every user's card has a distinct ID pattern that will only access their contact details. But users will be able to customize the look of their cards, and even upload custom designs if they wish.

TouchBase has just launched its service via the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, and it's hoping to raise $30,000 to get the ball rolling. And while the company's technology does look like a novel way to breathe new life into business cards, the cards themselves are a little on the pricey side.

A starter set that lets you try the system out gets you 36 cards for a $25 donation. And the per card price does get cheaper the more you buy, but the cost is still a lot more than a traditional business card. And asking someone to type in a URL to access a web app so they can then access your contact details seems a little counterproductive when they could have just typed in your name and email in their address book.

However, the use of conductive inks on a touchscreen—instead of battery-draining wireless technologies like NFC or even QR codes—is a clever approach to accessing additional content on a device. And applying it to business cards just might make them relevant for another ten years or so. [Indiegogo - TouchBase]