Cool Tool: CardMunch Transcribes Business Cards Using Your iPhone Camera

Hopefully soon we’ll all stop using business cards in favor of more direct and persistent connections, but for the time being almost every time you go to an event or a meeting you end up with a stack of cards. A new startup called CardMunch today launches a handy paid iPhone app that quickly transcribes and organizes those business cards on the go.

Here’s how it works: you open the CardMunch app, point your phone camera at a card for about three seconds, and it goes up into the ether. Human card readers from around the world transcribe the card, and it’s returned to you later that day direct to your phone address book (right now it’s just a few seconds later, but as more people start using the app CardMunch guarantees it will keep turnaround time “within a few hours”).

Today the app goes on sale at $2.99 for 10 credits, with a free version (a separate app called CardMunch Free) giving five free card transcriptions as a sample. Down the road, credit packs work out to about $0.25 per card. Android and BlackBerry apps are on the way.

One neat thing the company does is understand that your phone address book might not be the right place for business cards from people you hardly know. The company does integrate with the iPhone address book, but you also have the option to store each business contact in a separate CardMunch addressbook and export contacts as .vcf (vCard) files.

CardMunch CEO Bowei Gai says his company’s price point is similar to services like CloudContact and Shoeboxed where you mail in your cards, but CardMunch guarantees 100 percent accuracy and turns cards around more quickly and conveniently. He thinks his workforce of transcribers around the world can currently handle 50,000 cards per day.

CardMunch is based in Mountain View, Calif., and backed by K9 Ventures.