Branding Value Now Design Intelligence Reinventing the Business Card IDEO Style

Reinventing the Business Card IDEO Style

For eons, the printed-paper business card has been relied upon as a means of exchanging contact info and fostering business opportunities. Somehow this archaic ritual has survived the upheaval of old ideas brought forth by the digital revolution.

IDEO, the San Francisco-based team of idea pioneers and design innovators, believe the days of the traditional business card are numbered, and have some great ideas for their replacement.

You may be wondering who would have the audacity or right to re-invent such an old school and proven business tool. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it, right? IDEO has the qualifications and rep to be so daring—they designed the first mass-produced mouse. That’s right, IDEO developed the first mouse to be included as standard equipment with the first mass-produced Apple Computer, the “Lisa.”

Ideas for the new business card range from downright wacky, to blatantly practical—addressing the business card’s obvious weaknesses. One such prototype, named the Lightstick by designer Duane Bray, uses “inexpensive displays with wireless circuitry” to keep the contact info up-to-date as bits of data—phone numbers, addresses, email id’s—change over time.

Is your wallet about to burst at the seams—filled well beyond maximum business card capacity? When it comes time to clean out your wallet and trash old and unused business cards, IDEO’s Marion Buchenau has an idea that expedites the process. Her business card, the Tree-Ring concept, has a “simple visual expression” of the amount of time elapsed since the card was exchanged, helping decide whether the card goes to the shredder, or somewhere less perilous.

Marcus Gosling’s concept, the Pyre, solves the problem of what to do with traditional business cards during the transition period before their extinction. His handheld PDA scans the cards to retain the valuable data, and then incinerates each card within a tiny oven.

The germ-phobic or balding may not appreciate Pontus Wahlgen’s Hair Card. His design helps establish trust between clients when the owner plucks a hair from his/her scalp and places on the card. The hair contains the card-owner’s genetic code so the “receiver can check the owner’s DNA and determine if there’s a good fit, or check the authenticity of their qualifications.”

Outlandish? Perhaps, but amusing nonetheless, these ideas push the boundaries of accepted conventions and design. Check em out!

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