Like so many people I still get plenty of business cards and despite many attempts to replace them with something a little more up-to-date nothing has succeeded so far (and won’t in my opinion until there is a common standard). Actually I like business cards but entering the details from them into my contacts can be a bit of a drag.
In the past I have used a service called ScanR and, in fact, it made the services I use and recommend list a while back, however, that could be about to change with the release of Business Card Reader from Shape Services. This is an iPhone application that allows you to take a picture of a business card which it then “scans” using OCR to extract the text from the card. This extracted text is then displayed allowing for any amendments to be made if necessary. Once you are satisfied with the text you can then have it saved to the iPhone contacts list.
In use I have found it to be pretty accurate. The only thing that it struggles with is cards that are scanned in poor light or those that use an unusual font or have poor contrast between the font and background colours.
One slightly odd quirk is that the app is geared up for business cards that are horizontal/landscape in profile. If you have cards that are laid out vertically you can still scan them but you need to remember to turn the camera the right way round (see the picture below for an example). This is not the end of the world but given that a) the iphone can sense the orientation and b) the pictures taken then appear in your card holder look decidedly odd I would have thought that this could and should be fixed.
The other worry is that the first time I used the app all my contacts disappeared from my device and had to be resynced. This could be a coincidence but I will be keeping an eye on it.
Overall I think that this is a great app and actually more convenient than using ScanR so, for me at least, it is a keeper.