Poken It looks like a toy, but the miniature character with the oversized hand hides a USB drive that stores a name, address, phone number, social networking accounts and other traditional business card information in an encrypted personal ID number. Meet another Poken user and swap information by pressing the infrared sensors embedded in the hands together to give each other a “high four.” Plug the USB drive into a computer and it brings up a Web browser and downloads any new contact data into the user’s account on the Poken website. CEO Stephane Doutriaux created the device while finishing MBA school in Switzerland in 2008. Since then he’s raised $2 million, moved the company’s headquarters to Silicon Valley, signed up distributors in 25 countries and struggled to keep up with orders from places like Germany and The Netherlands that have gone gaga over the tiger, geisha, panda, alien and 20-odd other Poken characters. In the United States, Poken was completely out of stock in late May, forcing fans like Kelly Guimont, a Portland, Ore., tech support specialist and avowed lover of all things digital, to wait until sometime in June for new shipments to arrive. “I want a Poken so bad I don’t even know what to do with myself,” Guimont says. “They are so the cutest things ever.” They may be cute, but they serve a real purpose and unlike some smart phone-based business card apps, Pokens don’t need a constant 3G connection to work, Doutriaux says. On the horizon: a Poken convention badge.
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