Poken, USB smartcard

The creator

IMD While a student at the IMD in Lausanne, Stéphane Doutriaux despaired at the archaic ways to recover all the contact information he collected from the fascinating people he met there. This sparked the idea of a small device capable of capturing the information and storing it easily on a mobile phone or PC. In 2007, he created his own company in Lausanne to market these “Pokens”.The business modelEvents Though already collectors’ pieces in countries such as Venezuela and Japan, Pokens are really used as tools for social business events in the 50 countries where they have been sold. The PokenEvent package includes engraved Pokens and a website to improve networking during an event. Companies offer Pokens to their guests for promotion, to facilitate socialising and to measure the success of their events via a website.

The future

Lausanne Poken brought its R&D back home to Lausanne from California, where it had been partly carried out. The company – which has 22 people working in R&D – is oriented largely towards innovation, as shown by its multiple patents in the field of low-power radio frequency communication. These promising developments have recently spurred Swisscom Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Switzerland’s national telecommunications operator, to invest in the company.

The technology

Radio frequency Pokens use a short-distance radio frequency technology that is more secure than the Bluetooth or RFID protocols. The exchange of contact details is encrypted and protected by a password. Data pass when two Pokens make contact and are glowing bright green. When it is inserted into a USB port, all the virtual visiting cards are downloaded onto the user’s address book and social network pages. user’s address book and social network pages.

The innovationIdeas man A one-man ideas factory, Stéphane Doutriaux had the inspiration of uniting the virtual world of social networks with a real-world hardware device. His fun approach to managing personal information, along with the design of his Pokens and their user-friendliness, has put him well ahead of his competitors. The technology is not restricted to USB key rings: it can also be found as an iPhone app and is now embedded in the clothes of a famous Italian fashion designer.

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