You can't hide; 'geotagging' will find you

Why your next camera phone will know its place

Mobile phones have become the mother of all convergence devices, combining dozens of functions formerly found separately or on PCs.

Which leads one to ask: What's next? What technology will they miniaturize and cram into the tiny phones we all carry around?

An even more compelling question is, how will existing technologies be "combined" to produce powerful new features we can all use?

I think one of the most exciting and useful mobile phone features of the near future is the automatic geotagging of photos on camera phones. People won't fully understand how powerful, useful and fun automatically geotagged photos will be until they start taking them.

What's geotagging?

Geotagging, also known as geocoding, is the insertion of latitude and longitude data into a file or document, such as a digital photograph. In the same way that the time and date are encoded into digital photos, data that records the location where the picture was taken can also be added automatically using existing standard file formats like JPEG.

Scientists and hardcore geotagging photo enthusiasts have been doing this for years, but it's been hard, slow and expensive. The most common approach is the use of special hardware that "logs" where a GPS device is at every moment. Later, software matches the exact time a photo was taken with the location of the GPS device at that same moment as seen in the log, and voila, the picture can be geotagged. But that process is obviously not easy enough to be useful to the general public.

Geotagging isn't just for experts. Consumers do it, too. Flickr added geotagging in August. It works by showing you a satellite view or map of any place on Earth, plus thumbnails of your uploaded photos. By dragging and dropping each thumbnail onto the location on the map where it was taken, Flickr geocodes it.

You can also use Trippermap Geotagger to employ the powerful Google Earth in a way that supports Flickr geotagging.

A product called the Jelbert GeoTagger attaches to a digital camera's flash shoe. When you take a picture, the GeoTagger captures the location via GPS -- even the direction the lens is pointed using an internal compass. Later, you can use third-party software to merge all that data with the picture files themselves. It requires that you buy a Geko 301 GPS receiver from Garmin.

Dozens of camera phones already sport built-in GPS, including the Nokia N95, RIM BlackBerry 8800 and the HTC P3600 Windows Mobile smart phone.

The GPS functions in these phones aren't hooked up to autogeolocating functions, however, but adding GPS to phones is the first step.

There is hardware and software for automatically geotagged photos, but nobody has put it all together in a warm-and-fuzzy consumer camera phone. But all that is about to change.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Elgan

Computerworld

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?