Step 5: The Autodialling Business Card!

Picture of The Autodialling Business Card!
I'm not going to try to convince you that this is a particularly useful invention. It is an unashamed novelty - one that is designed as a show-off piece for giving to my better leads. The idea is that it actually dials me up by sending the series of audio tones (Called "DTMF") that the phone system uses to dial numbers. You pick up a phone, hold the corner of the card to the mouthpiece, and tap it, and the card emits these tones, and dials my number. Think of a musical greeting card on steroids - you can program it to dial any number, and it could easily be modified to play a tune or even speak a message given a little hardware modification and some more memory. I could make a batch of these for around $2.00 each - a similar price to some of those flash etched stainless steel cards, but a lot more inventive! The proto was a little more expensive, due mainly to the price of some solderable lithium cells (more about this later). Like the torch business card, it is not meant to be given out in the hundreds - I have a standard "boring" business card for those who just need my contact details and others for those I am really trying to impress!

This is all possible because of miniature programmable microcontrollers - they are now so small and so cheap, they can be put into disposable items. The one I use is made by "Microchip", and costs 39 cents in quantity (and not much more in singles). It can run any small program that you write, and can run it at 4 million instructions per second. I can safely claim (for the moment), that I have the world's most sophisticated business card! You could easily program the microcontroller to do any number of things that fit within the program memory instead - perhaps a simple version of the "business card torch" described earlier that has a flashing light or even "S.O.S." function. Your imagination is the limit here.

A bit of a warning first, though - this is well and truly in the class of an experimental device - it needs considerable tweaking to get working on an individual phone system, and doesn't work on mobiles. It may also not work on some PABX (business phone) systems, depending on the brand. I have quite a bit of experience in electronics, and some good test equipment at my disposal, and this design isn't really setup to be able to use reliably on all phones, so only "extreme experimenters" and those willing to improve the technical aspects of this design should attempt construction - this is definitely not a beginners project, but as mentioned, it might inspire some other designs, rather than being ultimately a really useful one by itself.
rholzmann3 years ago
hi you have the beginning of the idea , billions of business card are printed on paper each year but something is missing here to make it a world wide market but please free to contact me ( I am living in France ) I just has a wondurfull idea but I am not into electronics ( but I do have tech knowledge as a end user)
+336 25 21 21 21 send me a sms and will return you a valid email
laxap4 years ago
The Autodialling Business Card is just an insanely cool idea!!!

Thanks for sharing.
Nemesis09x4 years ago
Truly and utterly baffled by the ingenuity of your design.
In one word, fascinating.
darkdavid375 years ago
your IQ must be 250
elyena6 years ago
This is so badass. Thank you so much for doing a tutorial, it's really neat!