Lauren Goode

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Eye-Fi Looks Toward New Photo App

Eye-Fi, maker of SD memory cards that bring Wi-Fi to non-connected devices, is working to develop a more powerful photo storage and sharing app.

In an interview with AllThingsD following last week’s CE Week program, Eye-Fi CEO Yuval Koren said that the new app would be “platform-agnostic,” expanding beyond the devices it currently supports.

The company is aiming to ready the app for the second half of the year, though it declined to comment on exactly when the app would launch.

Eye-Fi already has a software app for desktops and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Last year, the SD card maker introduced Eye-Fi Direct, for easier photo transfers, via Wi-Fi, across devices.

Eye-Fi also works with several photo storage and sharing sites, including Flickr, Picasa, Snapfish, Shutterfly, SmugMug and more, so it will be interesting to see whether Eye-Fi’s new offering enhances that sharing or more directly competes with those Web sites.

The plans for the new app arrive as Eye-Fi anxiously awaits final word from the SD Association — which represents more than a thousand companies that set industry standards — on the approval of a set of new SD card standards that could adversely impact Eye-Fi. Eye-Fi has said that this new set of proposed standards violates the company’s intellectual property.

The SD Association’s IP review process was set to wrap up earlier this year, but Kevin Schader, the SD Association’s director of communications, says the organization is still continuing the review, despite Koren’s assertions that the review has been completed.

In the meantime, Eye-Fi has paid to become an executive member of the SDA, in order to gain some voting rights in the ratification process.

And as we reported earlier: The flap is coming at a time when consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for photo-taking and sharing — and more electronics makers are introducing cameras that have Wi-Fi capabilities, cloud services and apps for sharing built directly into the cameras.

Koren says Eye-Fi’s biggest concern isn’t the camera makers adding Wi-Fi capabilities to devices; it’s the potential for other memory card makers to mimic their technology without licensing it.

Eye-Fi currently licenses its tech to SanDisk, the world’s largest provider of flash memory. But there’s certainly room for other electronics makers to get in on the game. By creating new software, Eye-Fi hopes to set itself apart from the competition.

Koren envisions a cloud-based app that updates consumers’ photos across all devices as the photos are being moved or edited.

He also wants photo sharing to be file-format free. For example, the app would recognize and display the file type that’s optimal for whichever device the consumer is using. It might show a high-res photo on a new Retina display iPad, but a smaller, low-res file on a less powerful device.

“Photos aren’t a ‘jpeg file’ — they’re photos,” Koren said. “I don’t want consumers to have to interact with files, I want them to leverage the capabilities of the devices.”


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