Eye-Fi Announces New Version with Geotagging and Hotspot Access

By Naomi Graychase

May 12, 2008

Eye-Fi today announced that its new 2GB Eye-Fi Explore ($129) includes unlimited Wi-Fi-based geotagging compliments of Skyhook Wireless and one year of free hotspot access at Wayport locations.

Good news today for digicam users (read: pretty much everyone). Wayport and Eye-Fi today announced a partnership that will enable users of the new 2GB Eye-Fi Explore ($129) wireless memory card to upload photos (for free for one year) at any of Wayport’s 10,000+ hotspot locations in the U.S. Wayport’s network of hotspots includes major hotels, such as Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in New Jersey, McDonald’s restaurants, Hertz airport locations, and other nationwide retail sites.

We haven’t tested the new card yet, but company reps say that it’s as simple as turning on a digital camera in a Wayport location. The Eye-Fi Explore card will automatically connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot and begin uploading photos either to an online sharing site, such as Flickr, or to the  user’s laptop (PC or Mac). Users do not need to set up a Wayport account or have a laptop with them to upload pictures wirelessly from their digital cameras—just the camera, the card, and the hotspot should do.

Geotagging

Eye-Fi has also partnered with Skyhook Wireless to provide Wi-Fi-based geotagging capabilities for the Eye-Fi Explore.

“The Eye-Fi Explore delivers the two enhancements most requested by our users,” said Jef Holove, CEO for Eye-Fi in a press release issued today. “Our geotagging service automates what is today a compelling, though time-consuming and manual, experience.  And, our hotspot access will allow travelers, bloggers, and anyone on the go to upload, share and save their pictures before they even get home.”

Through the partnership with Skyhook Wireless, the Eye-Fi Explore can offer automatic geotagging. The card uses built-in wireless technology from Skyhook to locate nearby Wi-Fi access points. It then uses this data to encode each photo with its geographic location. Photos then arrive the user’s computer or in an online sharing account automatically tagged, making organization easier and sharing more meaningful.

“Geotagging makes it easier to manage and search for your photos on your computer, and it also makes them more fun and relevant to share on the Web.  Tagging has exploded on sites like Picasa Web Albums and Flickr, where users can share with each other where a picture was taken,” said Ted Morgan, founder and CEO of Skyhook Wireless.  “We’re thrilled to work with Eye-Fi to make it easier for users to map where an image was taken.”

The one catch is that the geotagging only works in areas with Skyhook coverage. Fortunately, Skyhook has been hard at work expanding its coverage area. Currently, in North America, Skyhook 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 should be covered by mid-summer.  Coverage expansion in key Asian markets, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and other countries is also in the works.

The Eye-Fi Explore is scheduled to be available to consumers beginning June 6, 2008. 

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.



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