November 13, 2007
Traditionally, geo-tagging has been a complicated procedure, restricting the market to hardcore enthusiasts and professional users. However, new GPS and LBS advances are enabling this market while also driving consumer growth for GPS into cameras and laptops.
As analyzed in IMS Research’s report “The Worldwide Market for GPS/GNSS-enabled Portable Devices – 2007 edition” GPS is going to be integrated in a number of portable devices, such as laptops, PMPs, cellular and digital cameras. The overall market is set to increase 5-fold by 2011, with laptops and digital cameras representing over 20% of the market.
Matia Grossi, author of the report, says “Photo sites and online communities, e.g. Flickr and MySpace, need to maintain financial growth through traffic-based business; camera manufacturers need to differentiate in an increasingly competitive market; end users need new and innovative management functionalities for their offline pictures libraries. GPS is potentially the answer”.
“Looking at the camera market, only a small number of companies have introduced real-time GPS capabilities into their high-end SLRs”. It is difficult to integrate current GPS solutions cheaply and effectively. Camera manufacturers have razor thin profit margins, so it needs to be cheap and it needs to work. A traditional hardware solution is not well suited for the digital camera space for a number of reasons, including cost, battery drain and performance. Furthermore, people expect to capture the moment in an instant and do not want to wait for 30 seconds or more to get a fix. A GPS system, targeting the camera space, needs to address all these fundamental industry requirements”.
A new software approach is being developed by NXP Software targeting the laptop and digital camera market. SnapSpot is a low cost/low power alternative that easily integrates into these devices, requiring little additional hardware (i.e. antenna, LNA and RF front-end). When taking a photo, SnapSpot captures 100ms of digitized GPS signal and stores it in memory. On downloading the photos to a PC, the location is calculated using remote servers.
Asus has already introduced SnapSpot in its US3 laptops. Currently, other laptop and camera manufacturers have caught the navigation bug, which requires a more traditional GPS approach. This has driven the recent announcements from Qualcomm and other GPS suppliers in relation to these markets. While hardware GPS is fine for laptops, it will slow initial uptake in the camera market. IMS Research believes that software-based technologies will force manufacturers to change their minds and drive uptake of GPS and geo-tagging.