Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Geotagging: New camera not required with Eye-Fi Explore

If your digital camera has a SD slot, you may be able to use it for geotagging with the Wi-Fi SDIO Cards from Eye-Fi.

For a hundred bucks you can add wireless capabilities to your current digital camera.

The magic behind the Eye-Fi SD cards is provided by the Atheros AR6001GL.

The AR6001GL combines a 2.4Ghz radio transceiver, the frequency range used for 802.11b/g wireless access points with upgradeable firmware.

The card carries 2Gbytes of Flash memory for your photos.

Insert one of the cards into your digital camera SD slot. By turning the camera on, the card will receive about 3.4 volts to start the bootstrap sequence.

By having software running on this SD card Eye-Fi makes it act in fact as an SDIO (Secure Digital Input Ouput) card, a bit smarter than plain storage.

"Activation/Setup": Shake Well Before First Use

But before inserting it into the camera, you first need to activate the card and set known Wi-Fi locations with a list of the available SSID's. (Support to static WEP 40/104/128, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK).

The cards should connect automatically to hotspots from the WayPort network (First year service included with Explore, $19 a year afterwards).

The low-end card allows upload to a running PC/Mac connected to the same access point (Eye-Fi Home, see below). After that you can upload photos to websites like Flickr and other photo storage services (Eye-Fi Share).

Geotagging

If you are talking to an access point, even better if you happen to have access to a database with matching location of SSID's & MAC addresses of Wi-Fi hotspots, like the one Eye-Fi licensed from Skyhook Wireless.

Obviously we are talking about pictures taken somewhere close by and/or around a wi-fi spot. Yosemite or that deserted beach won't quite make it.

Three Eye-Fi SD cards are being offered currently:

  • Home (~$80): uploads to computer,

  • Share (~$100): same plus uploads to web service,

  • Explore (~$130): same plus geotagging firmware marking your EXIF tags of your pictures with the corresponding Access Point  latitute/longitude (and maybe altitude?).
DPreview tried the Eye-Fi Share SD card last November.

The Geotagging version (Explore) is the one announced this week.

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