Smart Business Cards Transform Into USB Drives

Business cards belong to the same quaint, pre-digital era as film cameras and vinyl records. We may still have them, but how many of us use them to find contact information when we can consult Google or LinkedIn? USB drives are hardly more useful, usually ending up in the same desk drawer as their analog predecessors.

Now there’s the SwivelCard, a thick piece of paper that is at once a personal business card and a USB device. Once folded along perforated lines, a portion of the card can be inserted into a USB port and will launch any Web page you indicate, whether it’s your personal home page or Dropbox account. Even if the recipient doesn’t have a laptop handy, they’ll be able to access the info using the card’s QR code, which can be programmed to go to the same site as the USB or a different one if the user chooses.

The beauty is that, through the soon-to-be-launched SwivelCard portal, you’ll be able to register the individual cards and edit the IP address at any time. So if an architect wants to steer a potential client to her commercial projects, rather than to private homes, she can specify the direct link remotely, long after the card exchange.

IntelliPaper, SwivelCard’s parent company, specializes in direct-mail advertising products and has patents on the paper USB. It’s now raising money on Kickstarter [note: Kickstarter ended successfully on September 10, 2014] to apply the technology to cards and spruce up the back-end interface—where you activate and update the cards—with more features and visual appeal. Andrew DePaula, chief executive officer of the Spokane (Wash.)–based company, says buyers can also track where and how many times the card was used, so that architect will be able to see whether the prospective client has reviewed her work.

A set of 200 SwivelCards is selling for $319, or $379 with near-field communication, which allows the card to launch a website on a smartphone wirelessly. Buyers can choose among a variety of templates or pay a premium to customize the design.

More than a dollar per card may seem steep for two quotidian items rolled into a novelty. But then again, that’s how we got the Doritos Locos Taco.

Belinda Lanks, Design Editor, Business Week