01 February 2008
The big names in the digital camera world are all at PMA from today and there is no doubt that GPS will be a hot topic amongst attendees. The reason for this is a host of recent announcements from GPS companies such as Air Semiconductors, SiRF, Qualcomm, u-blox, Glonav and Geotate (NXP Software’s spinoff). These companies are finally paving the way for intelligent integration of GPS in digital cameras.
All the major GPS IC companies are looking at the digital camera market because of the volumes involved (over 100million units shipped in 2006 and growing) and the interest that digital camera manufacturers are showing in the technology. These manufacturers have been looking at GPS technology for years now and they have all been facing the issue of the usage mode of digital cameras (click and go). This conflicts directly with GPS, which can require tens of seconds (or sometimes minutes) in order to get a location fix (TTFF).
As outlined in IMS Research’s report “The Worldwide Market for GPS/GNSS-enabled Portable Devices”, solving this conflict is a key element for a successful uptake of the technology in the market. Matia Grossi, author of the report, said “camera manufacturers are unsure of traditional solutions because they are too power hungry, too expensive and take too long to get a location fix. The imminent arrival of GPS-enabled cameraphones, has placed increased emphasis on addressing this capability. Furthermore in the past years their margins have thinned significantly, with the commoditization of their products and the competition from the cellular market, making the issue even more complicated. At the moment there are limited GPS-enabled solutions, mostly in the high-end SLR market using external (and expensive) devices”.
“A new wave of GPS techniques are emerging that will solve the issue in different and innovative ways. As a result, IMS Research’s forecasts that the GPS camera market will show very strong growth over the next 5 years growing from a sub-million unit market in 2006, with a CAGR of over 200%. Currently, two of the most interesting ones are those brought to the market by Geotate and Air Semiconductor.
In Geotate’s Snapspot solution the receiver is only on for a fraction of a second, while the user takes a picture. Snapshot is instantaneous and user-independent, without eating up the battery, making for a perfect user case. From the manufacturers point of view it is a small, cost-effective way of addressing the geo-tagging market.
In Air Semiconductor’s Airwave-1 solution the receiver is always on, dynamically trading accuracy with power efficiency to find the optimum balance for each application. The receiver consumes as little as 1mA (on average) and is independent of the existing hardware, providing a perfect usage mode for cameras”.
Grossi continues, “The new solutions that are being presented could finally open the market to GPS and while it might be too early to expect any major announcements involving GPS at the 2008 edition of PMA, please watch this space”.
If you would like an interview with an expert in this area, please contact Alison Bogle, Marketing Manager, at
or +1 412-441-1888.