I have mentioned Poken a couple of times before on the blog. I bought one at my first Beer and Blog meeting and they were discussed at the Tokyo 2.0 event. The day after that event I decided I would get more involved with Poken and I ordered a pack of twelve. My package arrived this weekend :
Of those twelve, I managed to sell five last night at the Beer and Blog event in Ningycho, and three more have been reserved. However, I am going to save one of these gadgets as a prize in a little competition I will launch tomorrow on the blog.
I will post five photographs of well known Tokyo landmarks. All you have to do is send an email, to the address I will provide, with the names of the places depicted to be entered into the draw.
On Sunday 10th May 2009 I will chose a winner, at random, from the list of emails with the correct answers. The competition is open to you where ever you live. I will post the Poken to the winner, but if the winner is local we might be able to arrange a hand over in person and exchange a "high four".
For those not aware of what Poken is: It's a gadget, small enough to put on your key chain, that you can use to exchange contact details when you are out at parties, events, meetings etc. No need for a business card, simply touch your poken to the poken of your new friend and your details are stored. When you get home, plug the poken into your computer (PC, MAC or linux) and click on the Start_Poken link to upload the contact details to the DoYouPoken.com website.
The very first time you use Poken you have to register on their site and create your E-business card. This can include your photo, a background, email addresses, phone numbers, postal addresses and links to your details on all your favourite social networking sites : Facebook, Linked In, flickr, MySpace, Youtube, Twitter, Ning etc. This is what mine looks like:
You can control what information you release to which contacts, by setting up separate identities. For business acquaintances you might not include your Facebook profile, but only Linked In and use your work email address. For other friends you can include your home email address and different links.
For those that are skeptical, yes, I agree it's a long shot. However they are becoming popular in Europe, the company that launched the product is based in Switzerland. They are making money, which is unusual for a small technology start up company. Poken has only just been launched in Japan and these gadgets are not for sale in very many locations. The list at the moment shows only 3 places. The logic behind this approach is they are aiming for a viral marketing campaign: Getting their customers to recruit more customers. It is obviously working because that's why I am writing this blog post and running this prize draw!
Stephane Doutriaux, the founder of the company, gave an excellent presentation at a Google Tech Talk in Jan 2009. He goes into some of the technical details of how it works, what their plans are and some ideas on future directions which will include an API. This will allow 3rd party sites to access your Poken contact information.
"Why not use your mobile phone?" is a question often asked, well have you tried? It's not quick and it's not easy. Poken is designed to be fun, quick, and easy to use: no checking compatibility, no problems making sure you have the right software. That's all taken care of.
What about privacy ? The Poken website does not store any of the passwords to your social networking sites. You have to provide the passwords to authenticate your access just once, to prove that it is your profile they are connecting to for the first time. Nothing is stored on the physical Poken itself, except some unique, encrypted identifiers. If you lose it, no one else can use it to connect to your details on the website (unless you give them your password to the website.) More FAQs on their website here.
I hope I've persuaded you that you need a Poken? Come back tomorrow to enter the competition to win one. If you can't wait, Amazon is selling them online for 2,480 Yen each.
Update : here's the link to the Quiz
Prize Draw Small print:
Only one entry per person please. No alternative to the prize of one poken will be offered. Your privacy is important to me, I will not use your email address for any other purpose than contacting the winner. My decision is final, no correspondence on the result will be entered into. I reserve the right to cancel the prize draw without notice. If I have more than one Poken you may get a choice of which design, however that is not guaranteed.