They Know Where You Are: Photos That Find Themselves (Washington Post)

[Editor's note: Two articles by Rob Pegararo, the Washington Post's tech guru today on using GPS with photos. The first on how to accomplish this with a standard digital camera that does not come with GPS. The second talks about the software and social websites that utilize the GPS coordinates embedded in the photo's EXIF data.]

From the Washington Post article:

By Rob Pegoraro; Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page D01.

Your computer knows what you did last weekend — but that’s okay because most of your other gadgets do, too. Your browser remembers your Web reading list, your cellphone saved your calls, and your MP3 player can recite the songs you heard.And most of us seem content to have all this sentient machinery memorizing our daily routines, so long as all the data stay with us. A little surveillance of ourselves can be fine if we, and nobody else, get to see the results.

Your digital camera may be the next gadget to upgrade its self-awareness. It already records when you take photos, and now it can inform you where you shot them as well. You won’t have to remember where you photographed each vacation shot; your photos will tell you.

This feat comes courtesy of a $129.99 device called the Eye-Fi Explore. It slips into a camera’s SD card slot like any other memory unit, but this two-gigabyte card includes a WiFi receiver that connects to a database of wireless networks to determine the location of your pictures.

Continue reading at WashingtonPost.com . . .

From Rob’s “Faster Forward” Blog:

The first time I inspected a photo “geotagged” with the Eye-Fi Explore card and saw that Eye-Fi’s software had not only placed the picture on the map within maybe 30 feet of the spot where I’d pressed the camera’s button, but also the copy uploaded to Flickr was tagged with the appropriate city and state, I thought “cool!”

But when I told my editor about this successful test, her reaction was more along the lines of “that’s kind of creepy.”

Technologies that do things you’ve never seen done before can be like that. As I wrote in today’s column, I found the Eye-Fi’s auto-location abilities more fascinating than frightening, but I can see how others might disagree. I was surprised, however, to see such limited support for geotagging in photo-album programs and the more than 20 picture-sharing sites Eye-Fi supports, including such popular sites as Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Kodak Gallery and Photobucket. Many of these applications either ignore the latitude and longitude coordinates Eye-Fi adds to the “EXIF” tags of photo files or don’t provide a clickable map in response to them. I expect this to change before too long.

Continue reading at WashingtonPost.com . . .

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