At the It Won’t Stay in Vegas blogger party at CES, the same place I got to check out the Quadricopter (see a video at that link), I had the pleasure of meeting Dom “@dom” Sagolla, author of the book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. He happens to be friends with one of the Twitter founders Jack Dorsey, and on him he had the Square, the new working prototype of Dorsey’s payment system.
The idea’s that you plug this little box – not more than a square centimeter (it’s TINY) – into your iPhone or other mobile device, and you become a mobile merchant. The Square scans the credit card, then the merchant can take a picture of the purchase, you get your signature, and the merchant can email you your receipt. Just like PayPal made it easy for anyone to be a merchant online, this allows anyone to be a merchant offline. While you could see this working for staff in retail stores, various mobile businesses from contractors to farmers market vendors would probably find this valuable.
Photos and a brief video clip are below, with more photos in my CES set on Flickr. Along with Dom, there’s Sarah "@pop17” Austin who I shared a limo with to the event and who introduced me to Dom. Both of us bought his book through Square, paying a few bucks extra for his autograph – and the privilege of beta testing it. Admittedly not everything worked for me, as the wireless connection flaked under the Consumer Electronics Show network burdens and my signature and email weren’t recorded (that is my attempt at a signature below). I have a knack for breaking technology while breaking it in, so Jack, you owe me a beer next time I’m in the Bay area.