Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Know Where You Took Your Pictures Last Summer

Eye-Fi, the WiFi Memory Card, has a new trick up its electronic sleeve. Now it knows where you've been taking pictures and it's telling!

The latest version of the innovative camera memory that uploads electronic photos to your computer or photo Website is called the Eye-Fi Explore. What the Explore version adds to the basic Eye-Fi card is location tagging. Geotags or geographic location labels are automatically added to your pictures as you take them. Eerie, eh?

You might wonder how they managed to cram a GPS receiver as well as a WiFi transceiver and 2 Gigabyte memory into that little SD card. Well, don't strain your brain. They didn't actually do that. Instead, they're using a poor-man's GPS that calculates positions based on known WiFi hotspot locations nationwide. It's impressive. Over 70% of the U.S. population locations are mapped. In Europe it's limited to the top 50 metro areas, with up to 70% in the U.K, Germany, and France.

Speaking of WiFi hotspots, the purchase price of the Eye-Fi Explorer comes with access to 10,000 Wayport Wi-Fi hotspots across the US for a year. After that you're on your own to renew. And you need these hotspots, why? Remember the basic premise of the Eye-Fi is that you don't have to make your way home and wrestle with USB cables to get the pictures out of your camera. They literally fly out of the Eye-Fi card and through the ether to the Internet or your home network.

The deal that Eye-Fi has with WiFi provider Wayport is that the Explore card comes already set up to use the hotspots. No setting up an account, logging-in or toting around a laptop computer required. You walk into a Wayport location, such as an airport, hotel or restaurant, and while you're going about your business the pictures you just took get uploaded. If you forget to put a quarter in the parking meter out front and go dashing out the door, Eye-Fi will simply remember where it was and finish the upload at the next Wayport.

It's like having a little valet inside your camera, taking care of the tedious chore of getting your prized snapshots to someplace they'll be useful. As a devout USB cable wrestler, I can see where you could get addicted to a service like that. Oh, and no need to scratch your head trying to remember where you saw that awesome sculpture or met that special someone. The geolocating feature tags each photo with the spot, or reasonably close.

Think that this technology might make your life easier? Then have a look at the Eye-Fi Explore Wireless 2 GB Secure Digital Card (EYE-FI-2EX)

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