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Update: SnapMyInfo

December 1, 2009

It's been about two months since I opened up SnapMyInfo for testing, thank you to all those who have given the site a try! I thought I would write a quick post with an update on the project.

First, a thank you to Marshall Kirkpatrick for mentioning the project over on his posterous blog. That really helped drive several users to the site and uncovered numerous bugs that have now been fixed. SnapMyInfo was launched as an exploration of whether the concept of photo/barcode contact sharing is compelling or not. It was intentionally launched as a rapid prototype with limited initial testing outside the core functionality, so those first real users were a great help. Thank you all!

Many bugs have been cleaned up over the past several weeks. Some user contact "card" inconsistencies have been ironed out, as well as some problems with the registration process. SnapMyInfo emails (including registration emails) were being flagged as spam in some systems, so some work was done to help spam filters identify that SnapMyInfo emails are legitimate.

There was some feedback that users wanted to add social media contact information, so a place for twitter usernames and web urls has been added to the card editing interface.

social_data.png

This information is added to the vcard that is mailed out when the contact information is decoded.

vcard.png

Issues

Overall the reception to the idea has been extremely positive. There are some things, however, that seem to be limiting the utility of the system.

Visual Appeal

First, some people have commented that they think QR codes are ugly. I don't disagree and that may be a limiting factor in what people are willing to use these codes for. I'm exploring alternative barcode formats, but most are proprietary and closed (or require large licensing fees to use). I'd like to use QR if at all possible, especially since there are a lot of free (or inexpensive) QR barcode readers for almost all handset platforms. I'm still exploring the possibility of adding alternate barcode formats to the system.

Speed

I've worked hard to minimize the turn-around time of the email based decoder, but I've found one environment where taking photos and decoding them is still too slow, networking events. Originally my concept for the project was that people would take pictures of the barcodes and then decode them in large batches at a later time (sending the batch of photos to the email decoder). Watching people in social situations, however, most people want the barcode decoded immediately. This works, and is reasonably fast, but during rapid networking, the total process of taking the photo, emailing, and waiting for the response is too slow to connect with several people at once.

In an effort to address this particular shortcoming, I've prototyped a secondary system for rapid sharing contact codes at networking events using live video streams. I displayed a prototype at the November MassTLC tech tuesday event, and it worked well. I'm exploring the possibility of using networking events and rapid sharing as the primary utility of SnapMyInfo, with the person to person sharing being a secondary benefit. (If you're interested in possibly testing this system at a networking event, let me know: mikepk at tenzerolab dot com).

Next Steps

So I'm currently focusing on the rapid networking event system, but I'm still looking for feedback on the current site. I've got many possibly features I could add to SnapMyInfo, but I'm waiting until there's more traction with the project. If you've got an idea for a feature, or are interested in something on the following list, just leave me a comment. All feedback is welcome and appreciated!