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Five paperless alternatives to business cards

13 Apr 2011

Reports emerged last week of Google developing a facial recognition application that allows you to get the contact details – name, email address and even telephone number – of a person you’ve just met by simply taking his picture. Again, this technological innovation is raising privacy concerns despite assurances that each person has a final say on whether to make his personal information accessible.

While this special app is still being designed, the era of paperless, immediate connections is upon us. Corporate travellers, who run out of name cards, can direct new business acquaintances to any one of these online apps which are used to store one’s contact information and build instant networks.

FACEBOOK and LINKEDIN

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook is a social media powerhouse that enables one to search a person based on name, location and gender.

For those who prefer to keep Facebook a strictly personal channel, LinkedIn offers a purely professional alternative. Not only can users upload their company contact details and their resumes but also email another user without actually being connected to them. LinkedIn’s search engine is also more refined than Facebook’s in that users can find people by company, search for job opportunities and even figure out exactly how mutual friends are connected. 

Visit www.facebook.com or www.linkedin.com

GO800

For avid tweeters, here is a new, innovative way of connecting and interacting with fellow tweeters. Go800 uses a text-to-talk concept, which enables users to call anyone with a Twitter account simply by texting their usernames to a dedicated number.

Each user who wants to be “Go800 enabled” has to register and enter a number they would like to be reached on. People that want to reach “enabled” users will then need to text the Twitter username to 46800 and they will immediately be connected without revealing any telephone numbers. The group has also rolled out a mobile website enabling users to log in through their Twitter accounts and view their recent calls. Currently, the service is only available in the US and Canada.

For more information, visit www.go800corp.com

GOOGLE VOICE

Google Voice, launched in 2009, forwards and re-routes calls to a single Google Number, consolidating a user’s various phone numbers at home, work or mobile. Users must have at least one phone connection, either land line or a mobile service, which is then connected to a Google Voice number so all inbound calls are automatically re-routed to that number. Users get to choose their Google Voice number and personalise how many phones are connected to that number or which phone receives particular calls based on who is calling. Google Voice also enables voice mail, which can automatically be transcribed, send SMS messages either to mobiles or to email addresses and make international calls for low rates.

Currently, some Google Voice services are only available in the US, but the software is slowly being rolled out around the world in phases. It would be handy at times when users know just one telephone number, like work contact numbers, but need to contact them on their mobile. Using one Google Voice number removes that difficulty. 

For more information, visit www.google.com/voice

SKYPE

This VoIP service has evolved tremendously since it was launched in 2003. The software was first a simple call and chat service but in 2005, videocalls were introduced and today users can make calls from Skype to non-Skype numbers for a charge, send text messages through Skype, share screens and use it over 3G networks via smartphones or tablets. The number of users has jumped to more than 663 million as of 2010.

In October last year, the software unveiled a new version for Windows, which links Skype accounts to Facebook accounts so people can call or SMS Facebook friends. Like Facebook, Skype enables searches based on name, location and gender thus enabling users to pin point the person they are finding. 

For more information, visit www.skype.com

QR CODES

First invented in Japan, this new technology not only enables users to distribute information but also access information about a company or business immediately. QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) store encoded data, which can range from text to a URL. They can easily be generated online and users on the receiving end simply need to have smartphones that can read QR codes to unlock their information. QR code scanner apps can be downloaded and some smartphones are already embedded with the capability. A QR code can redirect a user to a mobile website or can contain contact details that can be automatically saved to the user’s phone address book.

To view a QR code generator, visit www.qrcode.kaywa.com

Alisha Haridasani


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