Ina Fried

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Eye-Fi Aims to Teach Memory Cards Another New Trick

When taking photos these days, people generally make a trade-off. Using a cellphone delivers only moderate quality, but allows the instant gratification of being able to immediately post the picture to Facebook or Twitter. A digital camera can offer much better images, but typically requires one to get back to a computer before being able to share the photos.

Eye-Fi, the company best known for adding Wi-Fi to cameras via the memory card slot, thinks it has a way to pair the two devices and offer consumers the best of both worlds.

The company is announcing today that it plans to create a new “direct mode” that will allow cameras with its cards to share photos with a nearby smartphone. Photos transferred would show up on the camera as if they had been taken from that device, allowing for easy editing and sharing.

Eye-Fi’s cards already allow photos to be uploaded from a digital camera, but until now have required either a home Wi-Fi network or a supported public hot spot.

In an interview, Eye-Fi CEO Jeff Holove said he rejects the notion that the cellphone will kill off the digital camera for most consumers.

“We absolutely expect people to use both,” Holove told Mobilized. Typically, Holove said, consumers use their camera on days they know they want to take pictures, relying on the cellphone to capture unexpected moments.

Eye-Fi, which is announcing direct mode at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said it plans to add the feature later this year as a free update to its X2 series of cards. The company isn’t saying exactly when the feature will be enabled or which smartphones will initially be supported.

The company has been expanding its products beyond just its signature cards, which allow cameras to wirelessly upload photos over a home or public Wi-Fi connection as well as tag photos with the location where a shot was taken. Last year, the company announced a service that allows its customers to back up their photos to cloud-based storage.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus