The highlight of an otherwise lackluster PMA 2008 came not from Nikon, Canon, or any of the other big name companies, but rather General Imaging: GE's new camera division announced that it will release one of the world's first point-and-shoots with embedded GPS. Well, to say that the E1050 has true GPS would not be totally accurate -- but the very features it lacks are what make it possible to incorporate geotagging capabilities in the first place. You see, this model only contains a GPS radio courtesy of New Zealand-based Rakon, but no baseband chip to process the data in order to create a "fix"; rather, an NXP Semiconductor spinoff called Geotate provides server-connected software that does the heavy-duty calculations once photos have been transferred over. This results in almost no hit to battery life or endless waits for a solid fix.
It works like this: every time the shutter is triggered, the camera's memory card briefly captures the raw data from the GPS radio, associating it with each photo. Then, once the pictures have been imported into Geotate's proprietary client, auxiliary location data is downloaded from a central server, which is then synthesized with the camera data using local resources to establish actual coordinates. What's more, the Geotate software hooks in to Wikipedia as well as the popular mapping and photo-sharing services, giving you real-world information about your shots while also allowing you to map them out and upload to Flickr, Picasa, and friends.
Geotate tells us that besides the E1010, we can also expect to see the platform incorporated into future cams designed by Taiwanese OEM Altek, with such a reference design pictured in the gallery below, along with one for a geotagging peripheral that snaps into a DSLR hotshoe. In the longer term, Geotate hopes to embed its low-cost solution (all that's needed is a small radio and some flash memory) in all sorts of products, from PCs to sneakers to soda bottles. And that's where the name of the company comes from: Geotate stands for "GEOgraphic noTATion," with the ultimate goal being the creation of an ecosystem in which we search not by "what," but by "where."