All the buzz at Innovate: The MingleStick

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How many business cards do you share and collect during a typical conference? Ten? A few dozen? A hundred? If Innovate attendees brought business cards to exchange this year, they might as well leave them in the hotel room because this year, we have gone digital.

Thanks to Certona, each attendee can get a MingleStick. I had the opportunity to test the MingleStick out at last night’s reception and then put it to good use during the opening reception. My stick (a USB drive) includes my business details and any time I meet someone that I want to exchange information with, we simply let our respective MingleSticks do the talking. They beam our contact information to each other, along with pictures so when we meet next year at Innovate 2011 we can avoid the awkward “You look familiar, did we go to high school together?” conversation. Now I can forget sorting through a stack of business cards, and simply access the contact information of new acquaintances online.

As I grilled MingleStick’s Anthony Capizzano, whose contact information I can now access in my online account, I learned about some interesting current and potential applications for this device. Remember freshman orientation in college? (I seem to have blocked that unpleasant experience from my memory.) You meet a ton of kids who, like you, are not going to remember how to walk to the dining hall, let alone the names of all their new classmates. What if you and your college co-eds had been given a MingleStick… and you exchanged contact information… and you went back to your room and were able to look at pictures and learn people’s names. Then during the first day of class you could sit down and know the names of all the people around you.

Maybe you are good with names and you wouldn’t need this to help you remember who you had met, what they looked like, and how to get in touch with them so you can get a date for the Homecoming Dance. Imagine instead that you were window shopping after the stores had closed and saw a gorgeous sky blue cashmere sweater (or whatever article of clothing you are currently dreaming about) calling your name. What if you could point your MingleStick toward the sweater and automatically have the details (and links to purchase) emailed to you? Talk about a cool product with real implications for retailers.

I can’t go back to being a college freshman and the window shopping application isn’t available yet, but for the next two days I look forward to collecting and sharing contact details with my fellow retail industry enthusiasts so that next time our paths cross, we’ll be like old friends. And if you are here at the event and want to meet and exchange information, I’ll be wearing a black collared shirt – not, unfortunately, the sky blue cashmere sweater.

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