Eye-Fi: Solving the digital photography pain

So, if you're like Chris Pirillo you have a large plazma screen in your family room. An Xbox 360 sits next to it. A Media Center is off in the office somewhere else in the house.

OK, we're not all like Chris (I don't have a large screen yet cause I can't afford it, but I'm saving up — the money I save every month on coffee alone that I'm not drinking will probably cover payments on one) but Yuval Koren, CEO of Eye-Fi showed me something that could make my life better.

What's the pain?

Digital cameras. I bought my wife a Nikon S1. It takes an SD memory card. But her computer doesn't have an SD slot. So now anytime she wants to see her pictures she's gotta hook up an SD card contraption that hooks into one of her USB ports. That's OK. But her computer is slow, is upstairs.

We want to look at photos downstairs on our TV (especially once we get that big screen we're saving up for).

Now, if you're a geek (or have one in the house) this is just a minor anoyance. But you have to have a Media Center PC. Hook the SD card reader up to that. Copy all the photos into its Photos folder. And then use the Xbox 360 downstairs to display those photos using the Media Center extender capabilities.

Whew, that's a mouthful. Now, try telling a non-technical person how to do that. "Forget it" will be the answer.

Eye-Fi, WiFi on an SD card

In fact, in my discussions with Doug Rowan (former CEO of Corbis) he tells me that there are many people who never even hook up their digital camera to a computer. Both Doug and Yuval tell me the fastest growing part of the photo business is those "photo printing kiosks" that you see at Costco, Kinkos, or other stores.

Yuval has a better idea. Why not put a little WiFi radio into the SD card and have it automatically send your photos?

What a scenario!

Imagine if I just could turn on my wife's Nikon and have the photos displayed via my Xbox 360 on my new big screen after I get it?

My 360 has WiFi — I bought the WiFi kit that got it on my 802.11 a/b/g network. Most of the time it's just sitting there doing nothing, but with Eye-Fi it could do a lot more.

Yuval Koren, CEO of Eye-Fi

Yuval demonstrated exactly that for me today. He has built a WiFi radio on a chip (it is also a memory card, the one he showed me had 256MB of RAM, but he said Eye-Fi will build a variety of sizes up to 1GB to start). Cost? Pretty affordable. Around $100. Availability? Hopefully this year, he says (it's in alpha testing right now). Funded? Via Angel Funding, looking for more funding as Eye-Fi moves to production.

Seeing this is just inspiring.

Comments

  1. That’s good tech. put to great use.

    I have a question… where is the post titled “The $100 million decision”? I received an alert for this and it’s been removed…

  2. That’s good tech. put to great use.

    I have a question… where is the post titled “The $100 million decision”? I received an alert for this and it’s been removed…

  3. Rob: the problem is that more than 100 million cameras are out there that don’t have WiFi support and more are being sold every day. Also, the software on the WiFi computers sucks and you’re stuck with what Nikon or Canon programmed in (you couldn’t enable sending photos to Flickr directly, for instance, like his product will).

  4. Rob: the problem is that more than 100 million cameras are out there that don’t have WiFi support and more are being sold every day. Also, the software on the WiFi computers sucks and you’re stuck with what Nikon or Canon programmed in (you couldn’t enable sending photos to Flickr directly, for instance, like his product will).

  5. That’s amazing. Wow. One step closer to Wi-Fi being in everything! I’m looking forward to that day with baited breath.

  6. That’s amazing. Wow. One step closer to Wi-Fi being in everything! I’m looking forward to that day with baited breath.

  7. I would love to know how this works. Does the SD card appear to be a shared folder on the network? Or maybe it’s the world’s smallest HTTP server.

  8. I would love to know how this works. Does the SD card appear to be a shared folder on the network? Or maybe it’s the world’s smallest HTTP server.

  9. So, I guess this is going to require me to break the little metal doors that cover the meomry card slot. I like the solid feel and heft of a metal clad camera, none of that light weight plastic stuff from Kodak, HP etc.
    So this product will be worthless to me.

  10. So, I guess this is going to require me to break the little metal doors that cover the meomry card slot. I like the solid feel and heft of a metal clad camera, none of that light weight plastic stuff from Kodak, HP etc.
    So this product will be worthless to me.

  11. Robert… it would be too simple but many cameras have a video out connector that you can just plug into the yellow RCA jack at the front of the tv. My 3yr old Sony does this, I would imagine many others do too. Unless perhaps this was a feature that was sacrificed to make them smaller. Not quite as geeky but hey my mom can manage this.

  12. Robert… it would be too simple but many cameras have a video out connector that you can just plug into the yellow RCA jack at the front of the tv. My 3yr old Sony does this, I would imagine many others do too. Unless perhaps this was a feature that was sacrificed to make them smaller. Not quite as geeky but hey my mom can manage this.

  13. It sounds like a good idea, but I deal with non-technical people every day. Unless it is as easy as pressing ONE button, it still wouldn’t work. What we need are devices that are as simple to use as the start button on a microwave.

  14. It sounds like a good idea, but I deal with non-technical people every day. Unless it is as easy as pressing ONE button, it still wouldn’t work. What we need are devices that are as simple to use as the start button on a microwave.

  15. Doesn’t the 360 already support plugging the camera into it directly through USB? That’s easy enough for me. With all the wireless security protocols to work around – WPA, WEp64/238/256, and not to mention configuring SSID’s – it’s still going to be a pain for most people to configure. I think it has market potential, but I tried HP’s PhotSmart PSC2250 printer with Wifi – what a pile of crap. I could never get the darn thing to connect to a WPA network – so I had a choice. not use the wireless capabilities I bought it for or lower the security on my network. I ended up getting an external wireless print server for the damn thing.

  16. Doesn’t the 360 already support plugging the camera into it directly through USB? That’s easy enough for me. With all the wireless security protocols to work around – WPA, WEp64/238/256, and not to mention configuring SSID’s – it’s still going to be a pain for most people to configure. I think it has market potential, but I tried HP’s PhotSmart PSC2250 printer with Wifi – what a pile of crap. I could never get the darn thing to connect to a WPA network – so I had a choice. not use the wireless capabilities I bought it for or lower the security on my network. I ended up getting an external wireless print server for the damn thing.

  17. It’s ok if your camera doesn’t have wifi but memory cards are the wrong place to put wifi I think. With current growth in SD and other cards capacity the current crop is obsolete before you can say ‘dang!’.

    Then again, I have a mythTV box with a built-in card reader and any frontend will gladly show you the photos of the master. From the same menu that you access on the master.

  18. It’s ok if your camera doesn’t have wifi but memory cards are the wrong place to put wifi I think. With current growth in SD and other cards capacity the current crop is obsolete before you can say ‘dang!’.

    Then again, I have a mythTV box with a built-in card reader and any frontend will gladly show you the photos of the master. From the same menu that you access on the master.

  19. Cool idea. My new Toshiba plasma has SD and Compact Flash slots on the side so I could just pop the cards in there. Plays mp3s too.
    One thing all these kinds of tools should have is the ability to read the EXIF data and rotate the picture on screen for you (ala Picasa).

  20. Cool idea. My new Toshiba plasma has SD and Compact Flash slots on the side so I could just pop the cards in there. Plays mp3s too.
    One thing all these kinds of tools should have is the ability to read the EXIF data and rotate the picture on screen for you (ala Picasa).

  21. Ah, but with the growth of WiFi in cameras you don’t need GPS to location tag photos. WiFi positioning systems use the resident WiFi radio and nearby access points to do the same thing. It won’t work in the desert or the mountains, but it does work indoors and in urban/metro areas – places GPS has problems. And it doesn’t require that extra chip or piece of GPS equipment.

  22. Ah, but with the growth of WiFi in cameras you don’t need GPS to location tag photos. WiFi positioning systems use the resident WiFi radio and nearby access points to do the same thing. It won’t work in the desert or the mountains, but it does work indoors and in urban/metro areas – places GPS has problems. And it doesn’t require that extra chip or piece of GPS equipment.

  23. Bzzzt! That was the sound of my digicam’s battery running out due to the strain of using Wifi. And why would I want to use wifi to view/transfer pictures on my PC anyway, when by definition I would be in front of the PC anyway? The two seconds it takes to plug in a USB cable is less than the 10 seconds+ it takes to establish a wifi connection.

  24. Bzzzt! That was the sound of my digicam’s battery running out due to the strain of using Wifi. And why would I want to use wifi to view/transfer pictures on my PC anyway, when by definition I would be in front of the PC anyway? The two seconds it takes to plug in a USB cable is less than the 10 seconds+ it takes to establish a wifi connection.

  25. I hate to be like this, but Apple has done a good job making it so Mac side of the world doesn’t have digital photography pain (in fact, it’s one of the things they’re known for), as Scoble describes it. I just plug my camera in, and up pops iPhoto. Sharing images in iPhoto makes them automatically appear in Front Row anywhere in the house. It takes less than a minute to do this.

  26. I hate to be like this, but Apple has done a good job making it so Mac side of the world doesn’t have digital photography pain (in fact, it’s one of the things they’re known for), as Scoble describes it. I just plug my camera in, and up pops iPhoto. Sharing images in iPhoto makes them automatically appear in Front Row anywhere in the house. It takes less than a minute to do this.

  27. @17, yeah but apparently Scoble and his wife throw the cables away when they unpack their camera. :-)

    I’m not sure I want to immediately broadcast my pictures. I prefer to so some post processsing first, considering I shoot in RAW. But, to each his own.

  28. @17, yeah but apparently Scoble and his wife throw the cables away when they unpack their camera. :-)

    I’m not sure I want to immediately broadcast my pictures. I prefer to so some post processsing first, considering I shoot in RAW. But, to each his own.

  29. I’ve been shooting a lot of video lately. I can play it back on the camera lcd or when I hook it up to the TV via wire, or in my editing suite on the computer. But it would be cool to just sit down in front of the TV and look a the raw footage before geting to editing.

  30. I’ve been shooting a lot of video lately. I can play it back on the camera lcd or when I hook it up to the TV via wire, or in my editing suite on the computer. But it would be cool to just sit down in front of the TV and look a the raw footage before geting to editing.

  31. [...] Robert Scoble met with Yuval earlier week. Here’s his initial write-up as well as a follow-up, where he goes into greater detail. photo credit: Scott Beale tags: photos (T) , photography (T) , Eye-Fi (T) posted by Scott Beale on Friday, April 28th, 2006 Comments RSS feed | Trackback URL [...]

  32. Un Invento útil, tarjeta SD con Wifi

    Leyendo el Blog de Scoble, veo este invento de la compañía Eye-fi, que se le ha ocurrido ( y lo ha hecho ) poner un chip wifi en una tarjeta de memoria SD de 1 Gb, para leer las

  33. Curious on the UI for this technology?
    If the camera is not a wireless camera, how does one set up the wireless for the card?

  34. Curious on the UI for this technology?
    If the camera is not a wireless camera, how does one set up the wireless for the card?

  35. [...] Irgendwie mag ich in letzter Zeit SD-Karten, und Eye.fi verspricht daraus nicht nur Speicher zu ziehen, sondern auch gleich als Wi-Fi Karte für Wlan Netzwerke (nach dem 802.11g Standard) zu funktionieren. Ohne einen Click Bilder von Kameras z.B. auf den Rechner laden und Setup via Browser scheint mir jedenfalls sehr verlockend zu sein. Warum eigentlich sind iPods immer noch nicht WiFi? An der Grösse kann es ja wohl kaum liegen. [...]