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GPS Features Gain Spotlight At Photokina

An estimated 160,000 attendees and 1,523 suppliers from 49 countries descended on the Photokina imaging trade show, held here, Sept. 23-28.

The show, which occurs every two years, played host to a number of new product introductions, from high-end medium-format digital cameras, to digital frames and photo printers.

The burgeoning phenomena of geo-tagging also gained momentum as several product and partnership deals were announced, promising to move the technology from a novelty to a mass-market must-have.

U.K.-based Geotate, a spin-off firm that was originally part of Philips, partnered with semiconductor manufacturer SiGe to bring GPS technology to “low cost, mass market digital cameras.”

Camera manufacturer DXG said it would offer a GPS-enabled video camera based on its DVH586 platform with Geotate technology. Pricing and availability were not announced.

Geo-tagging is a technology that embeds location co ordinations within an image’s files data — coordinates that can be accessed by mapping programs and software to place images on a map, reminding consumers where they were recorded.

SiGE Semiconductor is providing its SE4120 integrated GPS receiver IC, while Geotate is contributing its software. According to Geotate, because latitude and longitude data are added when images are downloaded to an Internet-connected PC, camera manufactures can “offer value added features and services” alongside their hardware. Adding the data after capture also saves the camera battery and eliminates the need for a cellular signal, the company said.

The embedded GPS solution will be available to manufacturers in the fourth quarter of this year for roughly $5, the companies said.

For consumers who wish to add geo-tagging after-the-fact, wireless SD card maker Eye-Fi will give current card owners the ability to add geo-tagging and hotspot access to existing cards.

The company also announced that it had doubled the upload speed of its memory card. The speed boost will come courtesy of a firmware upgrade.

Adding geo-tagging (which is accomplished by triangulating open Wi-Fi hotspots, not GPS satellites) and hotspot access will also come via a firmware upgrade and is available for an annual fee in October. The upgrades will provide older Eye Fi cards with capabilities introduced in the new Eye Fi Explore card announced in July.

Eye Fi will charge $14.99 a year for geo-tagging, and $14.99 a year for access to Wayport hotspots.

Finally, German-based Jobo said its photoGPS accessory is ready to ship. The $159 device attaches to digital cameras and records GPS coordinates to internal memory. It includes software allows users to match coordinate data with photos when importing images to a PC. S

See pg. 49 for more on Photokina.