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If Only CardMunch Were An API… Oh Yes We Did!

travistodd | September 13, 2012

An API for Business Card Transcription

[getImage id=”” class=”alignright size-full wp-image-3488″ src=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CardShark-Graphic_t.png” width=”500″]

#SNAP a photo of a business card.
#POST it to the new FullContact CardShark API.
#RECV a structured contact record in minutes.
#THNK about all of the cool things a developer could do with that!?!

Oh, and while the API is in beta, it’s #FREE to use!

Have you ever used an application that felt like magic the first time you used it? I clearly remember the first time I saw CardMunch in use. For me, it was one of those “How the hell did they do that?” moments. I had seen optical character recognition (OCR) fail time and time again at correctly capturing business card data. Unlike digitizing a newspaper article where OCR is actually quite accurate, business cards tend to be a hodgepodge of images, artistry, and some randomly placed contact information.

The guys at CardMunch had a stroke of genius and found a solution to business card transcription that was clearly outside of the box. They utilized Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, a crowdsourcing marketplace that matches human intelligence with tasks that computing power doesn’t quite cut. Simply take a photo of a business card, and minutes later a human transcribed contact is placed on your phone.

But therein lies the problem for many business users. What if you want that contact somewhere other than your phone, such as Salesforce, Highrise, or even your company’s home grown CRM system?

FullContact is proud to present to you CardShark: A RESTful business card transcription API that a developer can use to pipe digitized information from images of business cards directly into your system or application of choice. Simply POST images of business cards to the API and receive structured contact data back via a webhook callback. It’s that easy, really!

CardShark is free to use while in beta. Just promise to give us feedback so that we can continue to make the service better.UPDATE: CardShark is now out of beta and included on all FullContact API plans! We’ve also updated the name to “Card Reader API” – learn more here.

As for the current accuracy of results, well, as Brian Fantana would say, “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.”

See the API in Action

Do you need proof that the API is that easy to use?

Here is a hack that @mattdelliott and I did at HackDenver in 6 hours of coding. It does a great job of demonstrating the power of the CardShark API.

  1. Take a photo of a business card (two photos if it’s a two sided card)
  2. Email the image(s) to
  3. Wait a few minutes for the reply email.

Yep, it just turned the photo of a business card into a vCard file that you can now save to any device. It’s almost magic.

UPDATE: The CardShark Business Card API is now known as the FullContact Card Reader API, and is included on all FullContact API plans! Learn more here: