A different approach to GPS-enabled cameras
NXP's software-only solution to GPS enabling digital cameras may overcome some of the hurdles to adoption.
Photography's essential use of GPS differs from the typical GPS application in one significant way: You don't need it to tell you where you are, only where you've been. Why does this distinction matter? Because the former requires far more real-time horsepower and precision than the latter does. For digital photography, that translates into the difference between bulky, expensive power-draining solutions or small-footprint, cheap, energy-efficient ones.
At least, that's the thinking behind NXP Software's swGPS technology, and I think it has a lot of merit. With the swGPS software embedded in a camera along with a small receiver, every time you take a shot, the camera takes a "snapshot" of all the GPS satellite signals it can pick up plus a time stamp and then saves a tiny file with the info. According to the company, it consumes only 27mJ of power per shot. When you download the photos to a PC, it syncs with NXP's servers to turn that miscellaneous signal data into a location stamp for each photo. In contrast, a typical GPS solution does that synchronization while you're shooting.
The first product available using NXP's SnapSpot swGPS technology--Jobo AG's PhotoGPS, a $149 add-on that fits into a camera's hotshoe--will ship this summer. I'm just hoping that the execution works as well as the theory sounds.