The Connected Camera
It seems manufacturers of just about any consumer device are dabbling in M2M, for some devices these days. Everything from light plugs to garage-door openers are embedded with connectivity these days. But the trend is becoming most pervasive in what would be considered typical consumer devices.
Take the connected camera as an example. Now that digital cameras have changed the way we take, edit, and share photos, the natural progression is to make the camera smart enough to do all that for you.
Right now, there are two major M2M trends happening in cameras. The first is the addition of LBS (location-based services) and GPS capabilities, which matches up a camera’s coordinates with its user’s coordinates. This feature is especially geared toward adventurous photographers who take just as much pride in where they were when they shot the photo as they do in the photo capture itself. Add in the photography revolution of smartphones, which already have GPS capabilities and are putting a damper on digital camera sales, and it only seems logical that most digital cameras will offer the same type of features in the near future.
In fact, a recent report from ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, says cameras will be a major market for LBS and GPS IC penetration, with geotagging as the clear driver. More than 30 GPS-enabled cameras are already on the market, and ABI expects shipments to break 10 million in 2013. The research firm also anticipates a second wave of new applications emerging around tracking, maps/points of interest, and other navigation processes like dead reckoning, which involves determining location based on previous location information.
The other major trend is adding wireless capabilities to cameras. Some manufacturers are embedding Wi-Fi technology directly into the camera itself. Will we see this trend encompass larger, more well-known camera makers only, or will it spawn a whole new generation of device makers focused exclusively on connected cameras?
There are also a growing number of photo solutions entering the market for those that want connectivity, but don’t want to ditch their existing camera. Earlier this month Connected World featured a model from, Transcend, www.transcend-info.com, which could be one for the market to consider.
The company introduced its Wi-Fi SD memory card, which instantly adds wireless capability to an SDHC-compatible digital camera. The card’s Direct Share mode allows peer-to-peer connections between a camera and mobile device in any location. Users can do even more in Internet Mode. After downloading the free Wi-Fi SD App, users can browse and download photos from the Wi-Fi SD card and instantly email friends or upload their images to their social network profiles.
It isn’t all that difficult to imagine a future in which both GPS and Wi-Fi become an extension of digital photography. Although there is no question that these are emerging trends. As smartphone photo capabilities continue to improve, digital-camera manufacturers may have no choice but to push these trends forward.