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Big Brother is Watching (You Take Pictures)

So, a few weeks ago, I met my friend Burt after a long two days at Google (the subject of another blog post, I promise), and we were talking about a LOT of things, but he mentioned to me the EyeFi SD card for digital cameras.  Oh. My. Word.  How did I not already know about this?  As I said to Burt, it really makes sense that there would be such a device – I mean, we already have all the technology, right – so why did I not realize it existed?

  Man holds EyeFi cardBy now, you’re saying, Diane, really, what IS it?  Ah yes, I should explain that.  Perhaps I shall do so in the form of a brief vignette.  I imagine my school’s yearbook advisor sending her students out all over campus to capture images of our students.  She arms each pair of yearbook staffers with a camera, and in each camera is an EyeFi SD card.  The students remain on campus, so they stay on our wireless network.  My colleague has her laptop connected to the network as well.  Snap, snap! Pictures are taken.  And then . . . silently . . . and without anyone seeing it happen . . . the EyeFi card delivers the images to my friend’s iPhoto folders.  The images instantly transfer from camera to computer.  No cables.  Don’t even have to be in the same room.  And the space on the SD card frees up for more pictures.  Even better, if she has the geotagging version, she can see when her students were at different locations on campus.  It’s got classroom (campus) management built right in!

There are many varieties of EyeFi card, and it’s important for you to read up on what your own digital camera can support.  For example, my Canon PowerShot A620 can only use the “Classic” cards because the model I have does not support SDHC.  (But it CAN use their 2 GB SD EyeFi model.)  EyeFi conveniently provides a compatibility guide right on their website, so you can look for your camera brand, then specific model, to see which features your camera can support.

Lego stormtrooper holds EyeFi cardThe way the EyeFi cards work is that they are SD memory cards with built-in wifi capability.  Some models also include geotagging ability for inserting a code with the exact coordinates of the camera into each picture taken.  (There are entire websites and hobbies springing up around this, including EveryTrail, which incorporates hiking and photography in a social network aimed at outdoors enthusiasts.)  You can set up your EyeFi card to automatically share your photos online, on sites such as Flickr, Picasa, MobileMe, and Facebook.  (The image shows a full listing, plus those sites that allow video sharing.)  The built-in wifi enables you to transfer your pictures anywhere you can get online, such as hotspots like Panera Bread and Starbucks.  If you have your computer and camera (with EyeFi card) in such a location, you can set it up to take advantage of their free wifi to clear out the memory in your camera and instantly share your pictures and videos with people back home.  There are also some advanced features I won’t even pretend to understand.

I have a friend who uses EyeFi cards with his students in southern California, and I will be seeing him again soon, so I will ask him all about it and perhaps write a follow-up blog based on what I find out, so watch this space!

Image of man holding EyeFi card is from Flickr user sphynge, some rights reserved, Creative Commons.

Image of Lego stormtrooper holding EyeFi card is from Flickr user bfishadow, some rights reserved, Creative Commons.

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