Category: Tips


Using a Tripod

Thanks to a tip by a ScanBizCards user, I have recently discovered a truly amazing solution to most of the challenges inherent in taking good photos of business cards: the Joby Gorillamobile mini-tripod for the iPhone. Set it at just the right height (have the text fill as much of the screen as possible), make sure the iPhone is perfectly parallel to the desk and you essentially get the very best photos you can take with your iPhone. No more shaking/blurriness and the text is as large as can be (which is key to OCR). You can now touch the screen to help the iPhone focus without fear of making the camera shake. It takes a minute to twist the legs of the tripod to get it to be at just the right but then all your photos come out just right …

I have a Gorillapod tripod myself and I highly recommend it! Note: the iPhone 4 version has just been released, if you have the iPhone 3G/3GS make sure to select the older model of the Gorillapod.

Patrick's Gorillapod in action

Photo Taking Tips

We need your help! A great scan is only possible one a great photo of a business card – and we mean great. That’s not to say it’s easy to take good photos of business cards, far from it, in fact taking good pictures of business cards is almost an art! The good news is that after a bit of practice, anyone should be able to take great photos in any normal light condition. Witnesses can confirm that I have been the star attraction scanning business cards in a crowded bar with dim lighting (really).

One more thing before we go into details of picture taking: many expect optical character recognition (OCR) to “just work” and pretty much recognize text in any photos where they can read the text. This is a major source of disappointment to some because OCR apps don’t have the insights people have and may fail on photos where a person can still make out the text. So we need you to help by taking the very best pictures you can take! If you are disappointed with any scan result, please email it to us at info@scanbizcards.com so we can tell you what’s wrong.

iPhone 4s, iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS required
Let’s start with your camera. If you are using the iPhone 3G (sold at Apple stores until mid-June 2009 but also offered beyond June at AT&T stores), you’re in trouble … a quick check if you are not sure: run the camera application and check the bottom right of the gray toolbar at the bottom. If it has a slider to select still pictures or video, you’re good, it’s the iPhone 3GS or later. Otherwise, here is the problem: the iPhone 3G camera is not able to focus at the close range required to take clear images of business cards. The best you’ll be able to do is something like this – and that’s barely readable to the human eye, let alone to an OCR program. A solution for the iPhone 3G is to purchase the Griffin Clarifi close-up lens accessory, I recently spoke to a ScanBizCards user who reported scanning upwards of 80 cards with the iPhone 3G and this lens, although he did mention experiencing 60% or so accuracy which is not as high as we achieve with other models.
UPDATE: unfortunately the recently released iPod Touch 4 is also not suitable for taking good images of business cards. This time the issue is not so much the close-up ability, it’s simply the low resolution: only 1M pixels (compared to the iPhone 3GS 3M pixels and the iPhone 4 4M pixels).
UPDATE 03/2011: sure enough, the camera of the new iPad 2 unveiled March 11, 2011 is also not suitable for taking good images of business cards. Its back-facing camera has the same resolution as the iPod Touch 4 and the front-facing camera is worse.
UPDATE 11/2011: the iPhone 4S really rocks for ScanBizCards – much faster scanning, photos are super sharp which means higher OCR accuracy, and the flash really works well which means it’s feasible to take photos of cards in pitch darkness (really).
Of course if you have an iPod Touch 4, iPhone 3G or iPad 2 you always have the option to take pictures using a different camera or scanner, import them into your device, scan them to then use any of the ScanBizCards features. Subscribers to the optional Web Sync service can upload card images in bulk which really makes the process very easy: uploaded cards are synced back to the device and you will find them in Recent Cards ready to be scanned.
ANDROID:If you are using our application on Android phones: Android is new (and exciting) for us but there are many different devices and we would appreciate your feedback about the photo quality on your phone! So far we have found that all Android 2.0 phones we had tested had adequate camera but please let us know if it’s not the case for your device: open a scanned card within the app and use the “Forward Card” action to send us a copy.

Use a Tripod!
A truly amazing solution to most of the problems below is the Joby Gorillamobile mini-tripod for the iPhone: set it at just the right height (which means having the text as large as possible), make sure the iPhone is perfectly parallel to the desk and you essentially get the very best photo you can take with your iPhone. No more shaking/blurriness. You can now touch the screen to help the iPhone focus without fear of making the camera shake. I have a Gorillapod tripod myself and I highly recommend it! Note: the iPhone 4 version has just been released, if you have the iPhone 3G/3GS make sure to select the older model of the Gorillapod.
Patrick's Gorillapod in action

Bigger is Better
Size does matter when it comes to OCR – larger text scans much better – so try to have the card fill-up as much of the camera viewport as possible, which means get as close as possible while still capturing the text you want.

Parallel
Have the card edges be parallel to the camera viewport – OCR software assumes text lines are more or less horizontal are are tolerant only of a reasonable angle. Pretend you are parallel-parking at your driver license test with a particularly demanding examiner!

Natural or diffuse light
Natural light is best and the main reason is that it’s diffuse and it’s white light. This is why images scan actually better in the morning light than in the afternoon where direct sun light creates non-uniform coloring on the card background. In particular, stay away from incandescent light bulbs or at least keep your distance. This image is a case where I fell victim myself when I thought I’d get best results right under a spotlight – big mistake, just using the natural light in the room one feet away from that light produced much better results [Update: ScanBizCards V2.70 and beyond actually does well on that card now that we preprocess the images to handle such issues but it’s still best to avoid these situation – if only to have better looking pictures in the 3D cards view!]

Steady
If the text is blurred, the card is almost certain to not scan properly at all. Because the image is taken at close range, any movement will cause significant blurriness. Holding your breadth does help, and so does leaning against a wall (don’t laugh – in fact you can lean against a person too) but the easiest way to help with the stability is to make sure the card itself is steady, by placing it on a desk instead of holding it in your hand. This is obviously not possible if you are performing party tricks in a crowded bar or if you need to get the card closer to a light source. A couple of business card scanning applications implement a feature to capture the image when no motion is detected, which helps – we have on the to-do list to implement this feature as well.

Shadows
It’s very difficult to take a close-up image of a business card without casting a shadow on the card. Architects have an annoying tendency to attach lights to ceilings rather than floors, the sun is inconveniently placed above our heads most of the day and Apple made the iPhone screen so big compared to a business card (as if having a great multimedia experience and running apps on a great looking screen was more important than taking good pictures of business cards) that by the time you placed a card flat on a desk and came close to it so that it fills the screen, your chances of not casting a shadow are slim. It’s clearly a conspiracy against business cards and shadows used to be a vexing problem for us, killing the ability of the OCR to recognize text in the obscured areas. I am happy to report that starting with ScanBizCards V2.70 we efficiently preprocess the image to remove shadows prior to recognizing text so hopefully this particular issue should be behind us. As I result, I had to move this image from the “Scanning Failures” section of our sample images page to the “Good Images” section.

No reflections
Unlike shadows where the text is still identifiable, there is no recovering from reflections hitting text on a card. They just obliterate the text they hit and even if a reflection kills only a portion of a letter, you might still recognize it but the OCR won’t. Direct exposure to sun rays may cause reflections and glossy cards may cause reflections in any lighting situation and may be hard to avoid entirely: in that case, try to move the card a bit until the reflections hit areas where there is no text.

Focus Not you, the camera … the iPhone 3GS has a built-in autofocus which usually does a great job at focusing on the card but on occasion, it doesn’t or – more precisely – is not yet or no longer in focus because your hand moved. You can help it along by touching the card image, within the pale blue focus square in the middle of the viewport or on a different part of the image if you’d like to focus there instead. Important: Nicolas Nelken pointed out an interesting tidbit about the iPhone 3GS focus. If you place the cards on a dark background and touch the background to focus there instead of on the card, the iPhone will brighten up the lighter part of the image, resulting in a much brighter card image, which may scan better but also looks better in the “cover flow” 3D view.

Rescan
If an initial scan of a card was generally good but missed out entire sections or specific lines, this may call for a “rescan”, which means scanning the image again but this time cropping the image only around the missed text. Important: ScanBizCards “starts fresh” when rescanning a section of the image by removing items from a previous scans. If the previous scan includes elements you want to preserve, please validate them in the “View Details” screen, which means touching the item then touching “Save” to confirm (even if not making changes to the item). You can tell an item is validated by the fact that it shows a little check mark next to it instead of the usual arrow. We’ll take it as a cue that you are happy with this item and will not replace it when rescanning.

References

  • Gallery: you may find it useful to take a look at our Sample Images page for examples of good and bad images of business cards (there is a link to that page within the application’s help as well).
  • Samples: we also included a handful of images within the application itself, under the “Sample Images” card folder, you are welcome to scan them and see what happens
  • Support: disappointed by a card image you feel we should have scanned better? Please forward that card image along with the text results (we will keep the card strictly confidential). Just use our Send To Friend function from the Card View screen and email it to info@scanbizcards.com.

ScanBizCards Features List

ScanBizCards has such a long list of features (we like to say “scanning is only the beginning!“)  that it’s not easy to discover them all! So here is the complete up-to-date list. Truth is we feel ScanBizCards is much (much) more than a “card scanner”. Other card scanning apps cover just 2 or 3 of the 27 features below: scanning a card image for text, then adding to the address book. This is it – most scanning apps actually discard the card image once it has been added to the address book. We could not disagree more. Make sure to read about the Web Sync feature at the end of the list: it dramatically expands the ways you can manage and use your cards and extends your access to them beyond your iPhone.

Table of Contents:
1. Scanning
2. Importing Photos
3. NEW: Double-sided Cards
4. Cropping
5. Automatic Text Orientation Detection
6. Editing Side-by-Side With Image Preview
7. Custom Fields
8. Notes
9. Adding to the Address Book
10. Adding to the Address Book Optional!
11. Address Book Groups
12. Touch & Go – Active Canvas
13. Quick Intro Email
14. Calendar Reminders
15. Send To Friend
16. Connect on LinkedIn
17. Digital Rolodex
18. 3D Flow Cover View
19. Adjusting Thumbnails
20. Custom Folders
21. Search
22. Export to Excel
23. Web Sync
24. Putting Cards on the Map
25. Skype integration: call contacts from your iPad or iPod Touch!
26. Evernote integration
27. NEW: Import from Clipboard (email signatures)

1. Scanning It all starts with a photo of a business card, this is the input for everything else the application does. Taking good images is very important for getting good results and it’s all up to you! Please read our photo taking tips for guidance. Note: the iPhone 3G model is not suitable for taking pictures of business cards unless equipped with the Griffin Clarifi close-up lens.

2. Importing Photos ScanBizCards lets you chose business cards photos from your iPhone camera roll or any photo album. This means you may take photos with your iPhone before running the app if you wish, or with any camera as long as you get the photos synced-up with a photo album on your iPhone. Some users find it convenient to capture business card images using a flat bed scanner, which also yields sharp and clear images. Note: importing images is a great way to use ScanBizCards on a device without a camera such as the iPod/iPad but also when using an iPhone 3G not equipped with a close-up lens.

3. Double-Sided Cards Support
ScanBizCards is the only iPhone biz card scanner with support for double-sided cards! When you take a new photo or import from a photo album, just touch “Snap/Import Other Side” to add a 2nd side. You can then scan both sides, or just one side. The cards list view shows double-sided cards as animated images showing each side in alternation. Oftentimes you may want to retain the back side visually but not necessarily scan it – your choice. You will find an example of a double-sided card in the Sample Images folder. Suggestion: if there is no back side, how about taking a picture of the person as the back side (just don’t scan it!) ?

4. Cropping Before you start the scanning, you have the option to select only a subset of the image to be scanned. It is entirely optional but presents the possible advantage of eliminating possible spurious characters the scanning might mistake for letters within the image background, and it reduces scanning time. Cropping also sets the looks of the image thumbnail, an aesthetical consideration. Note: adjusting the thumbnail can also be done later even if no cropping was applied before scanning.

5. Automatic Text Orientation Detection Scanning must know what is the text orientation in the photo. When you take photos from within the application and follow the on-screen guidance indicating the “Up” direction we know what the text orientation because you told us! On the other hand when importing images it is imperative to find out what the text orientation is – we make it easy by automatically analyzing the image to make that determination. As of the time of this post, ScanBizCards is the only application incorporating this ability. Note: in about 5% of imported images we may get the text orientation wrong. You can tell this occurred if the text is not shown upright at the end of the scan. If so, just use the manual rotate button provided on the bottom toolbar to adjust the orientation then rescan.

6. Editing Side-by-Side With Image Preview Let’s face it: OCR is far from perfect and there will be cards when corrections are required. We make as easy as possible by presenting a list of the text results at the end of the scan along with a reduced size preview of the photo on the top half. Touch an item to edit and we zoom-in on the area of the card where that item was found. Some would say that this super convenient editing scheme makes it worthwhile to snap a photo of your business cards even if you then want to type everything in manually! Certainly beats having to carry the physical cards around – when you have a moment to process a few cards, just pull out your iPhone and fire up ScanBizCards!

7. Custom Fields You may add any number of custom fields to a card right after scanning it or any time later. For example, a contact’s company name may not appear on the card but you know what it is a wish to add it. Note: don’t tell anyone but on rare occasions there might be a job title, phone number etc on the card yet ScanBizCards missed it – a perfect occasion to add a custom field.

8. Notes A custom field of special interest is notes. You can add or edit notes quickly and easily to cards, before or after scanning. You can also add text recognized on a card to notes: to do that, in the card text details view you see after scanning, touch a text item then its type and chose “Add To Notes”. Note: cards with notes show a yellow post-it icon in the cards list view. Touching that icon is a shortcut to open the notes to view/edit without needing to open the card itself.

9. Adding to the Address Book Certainly a popular thing to do with a scanned card even if by far not the only thing you can do … just click “Add To Address Book” after reviewing and possibly editing the text results. This will display the suggested new address book entry, which you can still edit before confirming. Note: the new contacts added by ScanBizCards to the iPhone address book will sync-up with iCal on your Mac or Outlook on your PC the next time you sync your iPhone.

10. Adding to the Address Book Optional! You’d be surprised how many users have praised us for NOT forcing them to add a scanned card to the address book (unlike other scanning app where that is mandatory and imposed). Indeed we don’t think every card you scan necessarily belongs into your address book. All of our features are available regardless of whether a card has been added to the address book or not.

11. Address Book Groups ScanBizCards supports assigning new contacts to iPhone address book groups – which will map to Outlook contact groups or Mac address book categories. Note: ScanBizCards lets you create new groups if needed – a feature oddly missing from the iPhone address book.

12. Touch & Go – Active Canvas ScanBizCards turns a card into an “Active Canvas”! Actionable items such as phone numbers, email addresses and URLs are marked in colors on the card and touching an item acts on it to place a call, send an SMS message, compose an email or browse a web site. This interface is particularly invaluable for cards you just want to use when needed without adding to the address book. Note: it can be hard to touch small text items sometimes. No worries, we also show large shortcut icons on the side of the card view.

13. Quick Intro Email You just scanned a new card and added that new contact into your address book but how about making sure that new contact likewise has YOUR contact information? ScanBizCards prompts you after every scan where an email address was found to optionally send a quick “hello” to that contact with your own VCard attached.

14. Calendar Reminders So you just met someone and exchanged cards. Doesn’t it fall to reason that you might have a follow-up action item with that contact such as calling him to explore a business proposal or sending him a product sample when you are back at the office? ScanBizCards lets you create a follow-up reminder right from within the app, where all that contact’s information is entered in the reminder’s notes so that when the time comes you just have to touch that person’s phone number or email within the calendar reminder itself! ScanBizCards reminders can be synced automatically to the iPhone calendar or even Outlook/iCal on your desktop and Google Calendar on the web. There is lots to familiarize yourself with for this feature, we highly recommend watching this video tutorial. Note: this feature can actually be used regardless of scanned cards with ANY contact in your address book. Touch My Reminders, then tap the “+” icon on the top right of the calendar view, chose any contact from your address book and you’ve got yourself a calendar reminder with all of that contact info right in the notes of that reminder.

15. Send To Friend One touch and you can forward the new contact you just scanned to a colleague. The information is sent in three formats: text, image and VCard. Note: this feature has another usefulness, for sending a card from within ScanBizCards to yourself, for the purpose of storing it elsewhere or even just within the iPhone camera roll.

16. Connect on LinkedIn An absolute favorite with everyone who is using LinkedIn! One touch and you can fire up an invitation to the new contact to join your LinkedIn network – without leaving the app. We even show a little LinkedIn icon on that card to remind you which contact and touching that icon will even show you the status of that invitation … you’ve got to love it. Note: we think you can get a card, scan it, add to the address book, send a quick intro and send a LinkedIn invite in under 90 seconds … if you like to show off, try it while you are still chatting with the new contact then ask him what’s taking him so long to accept your invite.

17. Digital Rolodex Every card you scan is saved with the application. Cards are displayed is a scrollable list with a thumbnail of the photo, contact name, company name, date photo was taken. Status icons are shown when applicable to indicate the following attributes:

  • Card added to the address book
  • Card added to calendar
  • LinkedIn invite sent
  • Card includes notes
  • These are “active” icons – touch the notes icon to view/edit notes, touch the calendar icon to view/edit the calendar reminder etc.

    18. 3D Flow Cover View Just tilt your phone sideways and you can flip through your cards in a 3D view with reflections – you’ve got to see that! Check-out the top section of the last screenshot on the App Store.

    19. Adjusting Thumbnails We know aesthetics matter … Card images often include background material you really don’t need to see. Sometimes you also want to view only a portion of the card itself. You can set the looks of the thumbnail you see in cards list view – 2D and 3D – to any portion of the original image. To do this, under the cards list view (for example when touching My Cards then opening Recent Cards) touch the “Edit” button on the top right, select the image then touch “Adjust Thumb” on the bottom toolbar. Tip: an optional setting lets you get to that function more easily by just touching the card thumb in cards list view. Touch any help button within the app, then “Settings” on the top right, set “Touch Thumb to Adjust” to ON.

    20. Custom Folders ScanBizCards lets you store cards in related groups such as investors, friend or customers, based on events where you got the cards – or any category you’d like. Just touch the “+” sign in the folders list view, give it a name and start saving cards in it.

    21. Search Having in excess of 1,000 cards, this is the feature I use most often. Just type any text string and it returns the list of all cards containing this text in any field (including notes). Note: the search box is found on the top of the folders list view which you get when you touch My Cards from the main screen.

    22. Export to Excel From the cards list view, for example when you touch My Cards then Recent Cards, touch the actions button on the bottom left, select Export to Excel, chose some/all cards then confirm. This will attach an Excel CSV file to an email you can address to yourself. This is of particular interest to CRM users as the way to export contacts into their CRM backend. Exporting to Excel is of great usefulness for many other tasks around contacts, such as building a email blast list and more.

    23. Web Sync Never lose a card again! ScanBizCards includes a service to automatically upload new cards or edits to existing cards to a web-based personal account. But this is just the tip of the iceberg … Web Sync includes so much more:

  • Backup: had to replace your iPhone? Just sign-in to your Web Sync account and all your cards are downloaded back into the app
  • Keep multiple devices in sync: just sign-in to a same Web Sync account on both devices and the become “paired”, always showing the same set of cards. This is a great way to keep an iPad synced with an iPhone running ScanBizCards, so you can view/manage your scanned contacts from the iPad as well.
  • Web-based cards management: access your cards from any browser at http://my.scanbizcards.com. Even better: you can edit your cards on the web and changes flow back to your iPhone! A convenient way indeed to manage your cards on a larger screen.
  • The web-based interface is really a full-blown application in its own right and justifies having its own list of features … or how about taking a peek right now? Click http://my.scanbizcards.com/demo and see for yourself. Make sure to click MapIt on the top left! Click any card to see the card edit screen. Note: to learn more about the Web Sync service, please consult the help pages within the application. To get started, touch “Web Sync Settings” on the main screen.

    24. Putting Cards on the Map Using the web-based interface, you can view all cards with an address on a map of the World. Yes, we admit it, it’s a gimmick – but we love it. Take a look: click http://my.scanbizcards.com/demo and then click MapIt on the top left. We also map cards one-by-one: click a card on the web to open the card details view, then click “Map This Card” on the top right. This will take you right to that address on a Google map. Click the pin, then “Street View” and it’s almost like you were standing in front of the building!

    25. Skype integration – call contacts from your iPad or iPod Touch! Previously, the ScanBizCards “Touch & Go” interface (feature #11) worked only with emails and URLs on the iPad and iPod Touch. Version 2.74 changes all that – you can now touch a phone number to call or SMS and ScanBizCards will pass the request along to Skype to make the call or send a text message. Just install Skype and you are good to go!

    26. Evernote integration Starting with V2.74, ScanBizCards is fully integrated with Evernote: touch My Cards and look for a large Evernote button at the end of the list of folders. Touching that button will enable you to provide your Evernote credential, then search for photos of business cards in your Evernote account. Import the image(s) you want, scan them then optionally store the contact info scanned by ScanBizCards back into the Evernote record. But that’s not all: you can also export any scanned card into Evernote, not just those imported from Evernote.

    27. Import from Clipboard (email signatures) When you receive a person’s contact information as text (and don’t need to scan anything), it can still be a bit of a hassle to add all the info as a new contact. We have a button for that!

  • Copy the text into the iPhone clipboard.
  • Start ScanBizCards, touch the “Import from Clipboard” button.
  • Review/edit text items and associated type, touch “Add To Address Book” when ready.
  • This feature is particularly useful with signatures found at the end of emails! Note: if the contact’s email address is not in the signature, we recommend opening that email again after adding the signature to the address book and chose the option to merge with that existing entry.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: I was using the Lite version then installed the Premium version (instead of upgrading the Lite): how can I transfer the cards I had scanned in the Lite app to the premium installation?
    A: Easy! Use the Web Sync service to upload your cards from the Lite version then sync-up with these cards from the Premium version. Here is how:

    • Register for Web Sync within the Lite app (it’s free for one month and renewal is not automatic, no worries) by touching the Web Sync button on the start page
    • Let it upload all cards (watch the Web Sync status message to know when it’s done)
    • To make sure all cards are saved in your Web Sync account you can go to www.scanbizcards.com/websync from your desktop, login using the same email & pwd you provided in on the iPhone, all your cards should be right there
    • Now run the Premium app, touch the “Backup my cards with WebSync” bar, sign-in (NOT register) with the same credentials: all cards will now get downloaded from the web sync account into the Premium app

    Q: I am using ScanBizCards follow-up reminders. Can I sync ScanBizCards calendar reminders with Outlook or Google Calendar?

    A: Yes, if you’d like to keep To keep Outlook or Google Calendar in sync with ScanBizCards events, please touch Settings on ScanBizcards’ main screen and look for “Reminders Settings” in the “Features” section. Make sure you really need to establish a subscription: for example, if your iPhone calendar is already syncing with Outlook via iTunes you do NOT need a ScanBizCards reminders. Instead, please follow these two steps:

    • Step 1: Add your Google Calendar to your iPhone calendar – see instructions here
    • Step 2: Now that your Google Calendar is one of the targets where you can add calendar events from your iPhone, you also need to make your Google Calendar the default calendar for new events – run the iPhone Settings application -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Calendars -> Default Calendar. Note: in a future update we will add a ScanBizCards setting to chose its target calendar for new events.

    Q: I am using Exchange Server and have my iPhone contacts syncing to the Exchange address book but not contacts created by ScanBizCards. Why?
    A: you need to set the default for new contacts to be created within the Exchange address book:

    • Run the iPhone Settings app
    • Under “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”, select “Contacts”, then “Default Account”
    • Set the default account to “Exchange” (instead of “My iPhone”)

    Note: you also have the option to selectively add contacts directly into Outlook or the Mac address book from your desktop, by using the ScanBizCards Web Sync service, which includes a full web-based card management application. Click the Web Sync Settings button on the application start screen to get started!

    Q: how do I delete cards from the card folders?
    A: deleting a card can be done in several ways:
    1. From card view, for example after you take a new photo, scan it, possibly add it to the address book, then touch back to the screen where the card is shown full screen:
    – touch the “actions” button (bottom left)
    – select “Move to Folder/Delete”
    – first option is “Delete”
    2. From the folder level view. For example, from the startup screen touch Explore My Cards, then touch All Cards. From that screen, there are two ways:
    – To delete a single card, the easiest is just “swipe delete”, i.e. sliding your finger across the card entry. This brings up a red delete button.
    – To delete multiple cards, touch Edit on the top right, then select multiple cards, then touch Delete at the bottom

    Q: Sometimes at the start of the scanning process ScanBizCards is warning that it failed to detect orientation. What does it mean?
    A: ScanBizCards automatically detects orientation to enable you to take photos in any direction. This process occasionally fails – but even in such a case, if you followed the on-screen guidance on how to position the card when taking a picture, ScanBizCards will still orient the card properly. If the scanning process still fails to orient the text upright, please use the rotate button then rescan.

    Q: So what’s this new Web Sync service all about?
    A: this is a long awaited features requested by several customers. It means never losing a card again. It also provides you with web-based access to your rolodex of cards from any browser and you may find it convenient to edit card info through that web-based interface sometimes. And it also enables you to keep multiple devices running ScanBizCards fully synced! read more about it here. Just touch “Web Backup Settings” on the main screen to get started.
    If you are curious what a Web Sync account looks like, check this one (and make sure to click MapIt on the top left!)
    Note: www.scanbizcards.com/websync is the web-based interface to your cards, from any browser. Sign-in with the same credentials you used to start the Web Back account on your device.

    Q: I just took several photos of business cards and ScanBizCards failed to recognize almost any text! What’s going on?
    A: Image quality is extremely important and knowing what to do (or what not to do) when taking a picture can make the difference between perfect results and very poor results! 
We recommend taking a quick look at our Photo Taking Tips – here are the top 3 reasons you might be failing to get good scans:

    1. You have the iPhone 3G, iPod Touch 4 or iPad 2: the camera in these devices is not sufficient to take close-up pictures of small text! The Griffin Clarifi case accessory provides a solution for the iPhone 3G
    2. The text is too small: text must be as large as possible, which means aligning the long side of the card with the long side of the iPhone and coming as close as possible to the card.
    3. The image is blurry: even if it’s readable to the human eye, a blurry image is very difficult to scan. Hold steady and make sure the camera has focused on the text (if not, you can help the lens focus by tapping the screen)

    Q: when using the Quick Intro feature or export to Excel, the recipient gets the data embedded as text within the email, as opposed to an attachment.
    A: this may be because your default email account on the iPhone is Yahoo. Yahoo email has a bug where it converts attachments to plain text. If you have other email account defined on your iPhone, please set the default mail account to another email account.

    Q: I upgraded the Lite version using the in-app purchase option, but the icon on my home screen still has the “Lite” caption. Did the upgrade work?
    A: Yes, it’s just that an app on the iPhone can’t change its own icon.

    Q: Can I scan cards without adding them to the Address Book?
    A: We are glad you asked! Of course – scanning a business card or street sign you want to use but not add it to your address book makes perfect sense. After the scan, you will be presented the recognized text items for verification. On that screen, instead of touching “Add To Address Book”, just touch the Back button. The image will be saved in Recent Cards and you can load it at any time to use actionable items on that card by touching them or add a follow-up reminder to the calendar.

    Q: I used the rotate button and then nothing got recognized properly!
    A: the purpose of that button is only to rotate the image manually after a scan where we failed to automatically rotate the image so that the text is upright. You should be needing to use it only very infrequently.

    Q: How do I crop a card image to eliminate background?
    A: Since October 14 (V2.78) the image is automatically adjusted if you crop the image before scanning. Note: if you prefer not to adjust the image to the scanning crop area, you may disable the “Crop on Scan” setting. You can also adjust the image later to a crop area different that what was scanned using the “Crop” button.

    Q: I made a change to a card previously scanned yet the address book information has not been changed?
    A: we don’t automatically update the address book entry linked to a card. To do that, go to View Details, touch Save to Address Book on top right, choose “Merge with existing contact”, select the previous entry. You can also touch the address book icon for that card in the cards view and repeat the edit there.

    Q: The Help pages within the app don’t seem to cover the new calendar reminders feature. Where do I find out more information?
    A: The calendar feature results from the integration of the CallMeet iPhone app into ScanBizCards [note: you got two apps for the price of one!] and has its own FAQ page.

    Q: If I delete a card, does it also delete the related Address Book contact and calendar reminder?
    A: No, it only deletes the card image and saved scan results.

    Q: Exporting to Excel creates an email with text embedded in the email instead of a CSV attachment.
    A: This is a known problem when using Yahoo as the default email account for sending email, please change the default email account on your iPhone (Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch another email account, make it the default). Note: we have also received one unconfirmed report of a problem with Microsoft Exchange Server as the default email account.

    Q:  I edited the text of my Quick Intro e-mails from the settings, but when I go to actually send a Quick Intro e-mail, the formatting is different (i.e. newlines are ignored)? 
    A: Versions 3.04 and below have a bug whereby the text you save for Quick Intro emails is treated as HTML. This will be fixed in the next release. In the meantime, if you’d like to get newlines into your saved text, just write <br> instead of a plain newline. Also, for you HTML mavens out there, feel free to use your own basic HTML tags (iPhone doesn’t support many) to jazz up your e-mails. For example: Hi Dave<br>It was <b>GREAT</b> meeting you today!

    Still need help? Contact us at info@scanbizcards.com

    ScanBizCards on iPhone 3G

    ScanBizCards co-founder Danny Panzer begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting shows a few things you can do on the 3G, such as importing photos taken with another camera or using the iPhone 3G camera on larger text.

    Scanning images of business cards requires a camera with the ability to focus at close range in order to take clear images of the small text found on a business cards. Unfortunately, the camera of the iPhone 3G lacks that ability. If you are not sure which iPhone version you have, the iPhone 3G was sold at Apple stores until mid-June 2009 but also offered beyond June as a cheaper option to customer at AT&T stores. You can also check by running the camera application and checking the bottom right side of the grey toolbar at the bottom. If it has a slider to select still pictures or video, you’re good, it’s the iPhone 3GS or later. Otherwise, the best you can do with images of business cards is something like this – and that’s barely readable to the human eye, let alone to an OCR program. Before you give up on using ScanBizCards on the iPhone 3G, please read on, there are a few things you can do.

    Calendar Reminders

    ScanBizCards includes a unique feature among business card scanners: the ability to create a reminder to follow-up with a new contact whose card you just scanned. The calendar reminder is created with all that contact’s info right into the reminder itself so when the time of the reminder comes, all you have to do is touch the phone number within the reminder to call or send an SMS, touch the email address or URL. You can synchronize your iPhone calendar with these reminders or your desktop Outlook or iCal calendar or Google Calendar. In fact, you can even have a colleague sync his calendar with your reminders as well!

    Here is why it applies to iPhone 3G users: a little known fact about ScanBizCards is that this feature was added to the product by way of merging an entire iPhone productivity application called CallMeet to facilitate setting up calendar reminders with contacts in your address book. So forget scanning for a minute, when you have ScanBizCards, you also have CallMeet! We made sure to preserve the CallMeet functionality independently of scanning and you can use ScanBizCards to create very convenient self-contained reminders around contacts in your address book. Please read more about how it’s done, including a short video, on https://scanbizcards.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/scanbizcards-calendar-demo/

    Scanning email signatures into the address book

    This was added in Version 2.75 (July 28, 2010) and has nothing to do with scanning: we all gets emails from new contacts with extensive contact info included as an email signature. ScanBizCards lets you can easily capture all that in a few touches using ScanBizCards and it works just fine on the iPhone 3G / iPad / iPod Touch. Here is how it’s done:

    • Select the relevant lines and copy the text into the iPhone clipboard.
    • Start ScanBizCards, touch the “Import from Clipboard” button.
    • Review/edit text items and associated type, touch “Add To Address Book” when ready.

    This feature is particularly useful with signatures found at the end of emails! Note: if the contact’s email address is not in the signature, we recommend opening that email again after adding the signature to the address book and chose the option to merge with that existing entry.

    IMPORTANT: this mode is incompatible with our image pre-processing in the current release. For this to work, you must turn off image pre-processing. From full screen card view, touch “Settings” on top, set Image Pre-Processing to OFF. It’s a bit of a hassle because for actual biz card images it’s preferred to pre-process so you may have to set it back and forth. This will be fixed in the next update.

    Close-up Lens Accessory

    OK, so back to  business cards. There is in fact a way to use the iPhone 3G to take decent images of business cards: purchasing the Griffin Clarifi close-up lens accessory. I recently spoke to a ScanBizCards user who reported scanning upwards of 80 cards with the iPhone 3G and this lens, although he did mention experiencing 60% or so accuracy which is not as high as we usually achieve.

    You can see an example of a business card image taken with an iPhone 3G equipped with the Clarifi Case here.

    Use Another Camera!

    Obviously the cool part about using a business card scanner on a mobile phone is the ability to snap a picture of a card wherever you are and have it scanned into your address book seconds after you received that card. But if your phone’s camera can’t do this at the right quality, please take a moment to consider the possibility of taking the photos with another camera, then letting ScanBizCards process them:

    • For starters, you save a whole lot of money compared to a desktop scanner
    • Although you may need to transfer the images to the iPhone at your home/office, you can still process the images on the go: scan, verify accuracy and more.
    • As we say, with ScanBizCards, “scanning is only the beginning” – there is long list of reasons why you would want to process the card images on your iPhone 3G with ScanBizCards, and that list is the entire list of the app’s features, ALL of which (except taking the picture itself) are available on the iPhone 3G. Send a quick intro to a new contact with your own contact info attached, forward to a friend, connect on LinkedIn, add a calendar reminder to follow-up, integrate with your favorite CRM via our Excel export, and more.
    • Digital actionable cards gallery: once you have processed business card images on your iPhone 3G and used some of the ScanBizCards connectivity features, you also retain a digital library of all your card images, organized in folders of your choosing, which you can browse right on your iPhone and use to reconnect with your contacts.

    To use business card image taken with another camera on your iPhone 3G or iPod Touch, simply add these images to any photo folder which you can then synchronize with your iPhone, for example using iPhoto on the Mac. Tip: you can also get great business card images using a flat bed scanner!

    Larger Text

    The iPhone 3G is nevertheless able to take great picture of text – as long as that text is not so small that it requires the close-up ability. Examples of textual material you can snap with the iPhone 3G includes street signs, window signs, take-away menus, text on a TV screen. ScanBizCards makes it easy to treat any of these as a business card of sorts, by letting you control which textual elements you want to include in a new address book contact, and lets you manually add any items missing from the image. I happen to have just such a folder called “Restaurants” in my copy of ScanBizCards where most of the images could have been taken with an iPhone 3G.

    You can see some examples of non-business card material the iPhone 3G can snap just fine and scan well here, here and here.

    Manual Entry

    Consider also that ScanBizCards makes it really easy to manually add information to an image. To take it to an extreme case, you could conceivably take a picture of a friend with ScanBizCards on your iPhone 3G, then just add the relevant contact information – name, phone, email etc – manually using the “Add Custom Field” feature. Here is how it works:

    • Take a picture. When prompted by ScanBizCards, choose “Save For Later” (not “Scan Now”).
    • Touch the Details button (bottom right)
    • Touch the “Add Custom Field” and enter the text & type of the item you want to add
    • Repeat the step above for each field you want to add (name, phone(s) etc)
    • Optional: add the information to the address book by touching “Add To Address Book” on the top right

    What you’ve got is a great picture of the new contact, with all relevant info, optionally added to your address book, in a custom folder of your choosing. You can flip through such images, including in 3D cover flow view, and touch an image to call/SMS/email that person using the ScanBizCards “quick action” buttons overlaid on the image.

    When you receive a person’s contact information as text (and don’t need to scan anything), it can still be a bit of a hassle to add all the info as a new contact. We have a button for that!
    <li>Copy the text into the iPhone clipboard.</li>
    <li>Start ScanBizCards, touch the “Import from Clipboard” button.</li>
    <li>Review/edit text items and associated type, touch “Add To Address Book” when ready.</li>
    This feature is particularly useful with signatures found at the end of emails! <strong>Note:</strong> if the contact’s email address is not in the signature, we recommend opening that email again after adding the signature to the address book and chose the option to merge with that existing entry.