Poken: Business cards made social

This weekend, I was introduced to a neat device, called a Poken, by my friend Preetam Rai.

You google. You text. You chat. Do you Poken?

What is a Poken you ask? A cute little device (that comes with several different characters, one of which is a geisha even), that is the business card of the 21st century! Its a USB device, that contains a “key”, which pairs to your profile online that you create on their website. It then uses Near Field Communications (NFC) to “beam” business cards over (you do this via touch – the term beam seems so 1998, ala what Palm used to call it). When you get back to your computer, you can now see all the contacts you’ve met, and connect with them on the social networks that they’re on. Limited profiles exist as well, so maybe all you want to do is share an email address.

Nifty, yes? The problem with traditional business cards is that when you get back after an event, you have to parse them. The Poken takes away this trouble, as its all point and click. The device sells for about USD$27 at Bic Camera in Japan, though if you get it in bulk online, its about USD$16 with postage.

Can this work in Malaysia? At a little over RM50 (RM100 retail), I might be a tad bit sceptical. However, its all the rage in Japan. Its not for sale in South East Asia (yet), and its much cheaper than a Palm device than can beam over business cards… What do you think?

The Poken itself, is not a social network. It just carries contact information. I found it interesting (in a limiting sense), that you could only carry 64 contacts at one time, before syncing. So if you happen to meet a 65th person, your first contact gets lost!

Elsewhere on the Web, Crunchgear has a review, poken.jp which is the Japanese site (they were smart – they sold Poken’s in night clubs! They even have Poken meetups, and more), and last but not least, check out a video, from a Google Tech Talk, titled Poken: Extending Online Social Networking Into the Real World.

And in case you can’t see the embedded video above (coming in via an RSS reader or something), check out the Poken playlist.


  1. Nice. I saw the same device in Milan, where it has become popular, at least with the WordCamp participants. I felt a bit ancient when I gave away my old fashioned paper business cards to people who had a Poken hanging to their badges …
    I must get one soon


  2. nazroll says:

    can i poken you now?


  3. kaeru says:

    Virtually all bluetooth enabled phones can also can exchange standard address cards. Except most people never even use the feature, or the address books on their expensive phones. Other phones, have OCR camera phones.

    Parsing business cards? When you take it, you write notes on the back of it with a good old pen, while you’re talking to folks.

    “Call back regarding foo.”
    “Email link to the baz case study, they are interested in”

    Simple enough. You can work through a pack of cards, while waiting for the plane or something.

    The bigger problem is contextual (social network), not exchanging cards. When you have a few hundred contacts, sometimes you’ll often to jog your memory how/when you got this person’s contact a week, or even months later. So some sort of linking is needed. Both Agendus and Datebk6 PIM software allow you to link these addresses, to calls, events, meetings and follow up tasks. So you can pull out history for a particular address card. Aha.. I met this guy at so and so, and I sent something.

    Different tech for exchanging contacts will come and go, but the folks who say something, then never follow up will always be the same.