Following the introduction of the Eye-Fi Wi-Fi card for digital cameras (see PMA08: digital cameras connect to photo sharing), Eye-Fi announces today Eye-Fi Explore including a Wi-Fi based geolocalization of photos thanks to a partnership with Skyhook Wireless.
The card uses built-in wireless technology to locate nearby Wi-Fi access points when pictures are captured within the Skyhook coverage area. The Eye-Fi service uses this information to encode each photo with geographic locations, and the images arrive on the user’s computer and online sharing account automatically tagged.
In North America, Skyhook currently provides coverage of more than 70 percent of the population. In Europe, the top 50 metropolitan areas are covered, along with 70 percent of the population in Germany, France and the UK. The rest of Western Europe is announced to be covered in mid-summer 2008. Coverage expansion in key Asian markets, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other countries is currently underway.
Scheduled to be available to consumers beginning June 6, 2008, the Eye-Fi Explore wireless memory card will also give users the freedom to upload photos while away from home at one of Wayport’s 10,000+ hotspot locations. By simply turning on the camera in a Wayport location, the card will automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network and begin uploading photos to the Web and the user’s PC or Mac.
The photographer does not need to have a Wayport account or a laptop with them to upload pictures for free from their digital camera. Eye-Fi will notify users via SMS or e-mail messages regarding the progress of the upload session.
Wayport enables public and private applications across the U.S. in major hotels, McDonald’s restaurants, Hertz airport locations, and other top retail brands.
For sure, recent PMA was the opportunity for numerous announcements. Quite logically, my interest went to digital camera manufacturers showing photo sharing connectivity.
The first pretty impressive was the Samsung GX-20 with its optional battery pack featuring Wi-Fi connectivity. Demonstrated at the show was upload to Picasa. Flickr also showed up in the menus but not done due to contractual reasons.
Lumix previewed a nice implementation allowing both upload to Picasa and sending by e-mail.
My preference goes to Eye-Fi, a small SD card featuring 2 Gbytes of storage and an automatic Wi-Fi based upload of the photos either to my computer or to photo sharing sites. Once connected to the defined Wi-Fi network, the card automatically uploads the pictures as defined. The list of supported photo sharing sites is already impressive. No doubt that KoffeePhoto will be added soon.
Do I (really) need ubiquitous access to my pictures? Asking this question may sound weird but let’s go into the details.
Not so long ago, your pictures were probably stored in a shoebox, some of them in photo albums. Photo sharing took place when relatives came home or when, back to work, chatting at the coffee machine… Nobody even thought of carrying one’s own photo library at any time or sharing them with anybody down the street.
This has changed in the digital world. As other digitalized media, a picture is not a piece of material any more. A picture now consists of a couple of bytes stored on a local or remote hard drive that can easily be linked to. This has completely changed our relation to the pictures, but did it change our relation to people, to relatives?
We need to consider two kinds of relation to people here. Relation to people I know, and, relation to people I may not know.
Relation to people I know, let’s call them relatives, is based on sharing – sharing emotions, ideas, pictures… But in a managed way – I know who I talk to and with whom I want to share pictures.
Relation to people I may not know is based on discovering. Here, rather than sharing, I may be willing to publish what I want others to know about me, my interests, my ideas, my works, in order to create new relations.
We have here two specific needs. At Koffeeware, we chose to address the relation with relatives first. With relatives, we are on a long term relation and ready to share a lot. An example, your last kid, you don’t want to have to chose which picture to share with them. You want to show them a lot of pictures, more than a lot… And new ones, as often as possible. The digital life also simplifies sharing as it does not require to meet them, we don’t have to wait to share.
More, we think the digital life does not have to impose technologies. Your relatives should be able to watch the pictures using whatever means they like: web pages, mobile phone, personalized home pages, and so on.
Last, thanks to the digital format, pictures are easy to store. A photo sharing solution should also provide a long term storage solution. Because it is good to know the pictures are safe from any failure that may end up in losing them.
This is what we are heading to with recent developments on KoffeePhoto. Not only can you access your pictures from any computer, but you can install a digital frame on your iGoogle or Netvibes personalized home page and you can even access and share your albums while meeting someone in the street using your mobile phone.
So, do I need ubiquitous access to my pictures? True photo sharing requires it.
A couple days after Yahoo! discontinuing Yahoo! Photos and with insisting rumours of Microsoft and Yahoo! merging, MySpace buys Photobucket for $250 million.
Posted today a six page KoffeePhoto presentation on SlideShare. Surprisingly, the most viewed presentation of the day!