Poken: Toy for social networking addicts

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | September 17, 2010
afaqs! explores a social media gadget named Poken, which can be leveraged for networking and brand building purposes

Before revealing this gadget named Poken, it is important to understand the genesis of its existence. Consider the conversation below, between a media professional and Dr. Networking:

Media professional: I am a networking addict.

Dr. Networking: Are you just an online social networking addict?

Media professional: No. I meet a lot of professionals in daily life and exchange business cards with them.

Dr. Networking: Is there any problem in it?

Media professional: Yes! Managing these business cards. After I exchange cards, I take a lot of time in extracting and arranging their contact details in my database. Besides, searching for the online presence (on networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook) of the people I share business cards with is also a very cumbersome and time consuming process.

Dr. Networking: Oh! My dear friend, you don't need a medicine. You need a gadget called Poken.

The future of business cards

At first glance, Poken looks like a pen drive (storage device). In reality, it is a USB-enabled social business card, developed by the Switzerland based company, It not only allows its users to exchange their contact details but also empowers them to share their presences on various social networking sites in a few seconds. How?

To begin the process, the user needs to first plug the device into the USB port of his computer, connected with the Internet. Once plugged, the device automatically directs him to, where he can create his virtual business card and feed in information such as name, designation and other contact details.

The user can also add his photograph and provide clickable links - displayed as icons - of his various social networking profiles. More than 40 social media sites such as,, and can be linked with the social business card.

To exchange information/cards with people in the real or offline world, the Poken users are required to bring their Pokens close (about 0.5 inch) to each other, and wait for few seconds until the devices exude a green light. The green light indicates that the business cards of the two users have been successfully exchanged.

The information acquired could then be retrieved by plugging the device into the Internet enabled computer. Soon after it is plugged, the device pulls up a web page called dashboard, where details of shared business cards are showcased. In case the user wants to visit the social networking profiles of the various business associates he gathered the business cards of, he can directly click on the social networking sites' icons (on the bottom of the social business cards) and land on the desired profiles in absolutely no time.

A Poken can save up to 64 social business cards in one go, which, after being transferred to the desired location, empties the space to save further business cards.

The branding opportunity

Marketers can employ Poken for brand building purposes. Naidu Darapaneni, founder and chief executive officer, Versant Technologies, the Hyderabad based company which is the exclusive reseller of Poken in India (, explains, "Advertisers can print their logos or stickers on Pokens and can also explore the online branding possibility."

The online branding option includes branded social business cards, skins and banner ads served on dashboard. The company has plans to charge about Rs 100 from advertiser to serve banner ads on per user and monthly basis.

He adds that companies use Poken during business events and conferences organised or sponsored by them. "Some of the global brands such as BMW, Adobe, Microsoft, SAP and IBM have used Pokens in their events," adds Darapaneni.

BMW utilised branded Pokens in an event named Trend Forum, organised in Munich, Germany in December 2009.

For the record, Poken has recently launched an Apple iPhone application which offers similar functionality. The same technology will soon be made available on other smart phones.

Priced at about Rs 1500, it will be interesting to watch whether Poken will take off in India, especially considering the fact that it will be of no use if the other person does not own the same device.

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