Imagine being able to give out more than your basic information to an important potential client you met in the hallway at that big tech conference. What could bands do with a stylish business card that doubled as a USB drive that could send users to a Dropbox account with their demo?
Enter the Intellipaper swivelCards, a product that not only works as a traditional business card, but also as a paper USB drive. This drive, in conjunction with Intellipaper, contains a special HTML file that sends you to a unique forwarding link that directs to to any link on the Web the card’s original owner assigned.
Intellipaper hopes that this product, recently launched as a KickStarter project, will change the way business cards work. By allowing the card to easily send recipients to a specified link, there really isn’t much of a limit as to what type of information can be included. It could be anything from a link to join a virtual conference to a demo album for a local band.
How Does it Work?
Once you insert the foldable card into your USB drive, you see it appear on your desktop as iPaper, a 5.1 MB storage drive.
When you open the drive, you are greeted by a file called Double-click to launch.html which sends you to a browser forwarding link that sends you wherever the person that programmed the cards set the destination URL to be.
I received a pack of these cards to try out for myself to review, and was surprised at how thick and high-quality the paper these cards were printed on were. Every card I sampled included a QR code that contained the same forwarding URL of the file inside.
Setting up a pack of cards is done upon receipt. Each set has a unique Pack ID which allows you to set the forwarding URL the card’s HTML file takes you to. You will need to register an account, including your email address, to finish card setup, but once this is done, customers should be able to reach your designated URL without hassle.
Despite having 5.1 MB of onboard memory, the drive doesn’t appear to be able to be written to. The only thing that exists on it is the HTML file, and I was unable to add any information at all to the drive using Finder on OS X.
Will Companies Use it?
The security cautious will have a difficult time with inserting a USB drive from anyone they do not absolutely trust into their system. It will take some time and education for people to become accustomed to the swivelCards to overcome this hesitation, and even then there is no vetting from Intellipaper as to what sits on the other end of the designated link. It could theoretically be anything, even a malicious link.
At roughly $3 a piece, they aren’t cheap. You would likely only distribute them to someone you felt would actually use the card. It would be a better fit for a computer repair service to send a link to a remote support page through GoToMyPC or a similar service than for a freelancer that needs to cut costs.
There is a novelty to something like this that makes it appealing. It could be an excellent fit for businesses that need to stand out amongst the crowd, especially in the tech sector where finding innovative ways to get things done has a greater appeal.
The real answer to this question will come once these cards are more widely distributed. The initial investment required means that the ROI (return on investment) would have to be significantly high, and until there is some proof that these cards are being received and used, it’s a difficult sell.
For bands that want to sell their album and forego the traditional CD, this is an intriguing idea. For $3, they can hand a card to their fans which sends them to a Dropbox folder they can download the music in high quality. That’s a pretty interesting idea, and one that might appeal to a generation that doesn’t necessarily own CD players.