New chip allows WiFi upgrade of digital cameras

Eye-fi’s SD camera card: has WiFi built so you can beam your photos straight out of the camera.

In this Web 2.0 era where everyone wants to share everything with everyone else it’s surprising that digital cameras are still largely tethered to the USB cable and a manual download process to the PC.

Sure some cameras have been introduced with WiFi and limited functionality to upload pics to online photo galleries but the potential of WiFi in cameras has hardly been tapped to its maximum potential.

Allowing enthusiastic shutter bugs to wirelessly send their efforts to web sites such as Flickr or beam them via email to friends and family is an undeniably attractive feature but what about the millions upon millions of existing digital cameras out there without this capability?

A newly developed wireless-enabled memory card might be the answer.

Soon to be released by US-based wireless developer Eye-Fi the device is designed to slot into a camera’s SD slot in place of the existing memory card.

Built around the AR6001GL ROC chip from US developer Atheros Communications the card will apparently be compatible with most SD-using digital cameras.

The card will allow the camera to connect to 802.11b/g public hotspots as well as home and office wireless networks. It also will allow the camera to connect directly to any WiFi-enabled printer.

As well as acting as providing a WiFi connection the card also acts a conventional memory card allowing you to store photos in its flash memory space.

Atheros says it has gone to great lengths to design the chip used in the card so that it does not unnecessarily drain the camera’s battery. It has used a range of technologies including Automatic Power Save Delivery (APSD) and a special low-power sleep mode.

The card is also compliant with existing security standards including the more advanced wireless security standards WPA and WPA2.

The card is scheduled to be released in the US towards the end of this year however no Australian shipping date has yet been announced.