Friday, April 30, 2010

Eye-Fi Partners with Devicescape for Easy Hotspot Logins

Two of my favorite companies are working together: Eye-Fi is updating its line of SD card-based Wi-Fi adapters to use Devicescape's automated hotspot login system. This is extremely neat, because otherwise, those hotspots are unavailable for login. Eye-Fi offers a network of 21,000 locations via AT&T (formerly Wayport, which AT&T acquired) already, where the card automatically detects and logs in. The Devicescape deal opens up the card to hundreds of thousands of additional locations.

Devicescape doesn't sell access, but rather lets you store all your network credentials via an account you maintain on its Web site. Any device or computer you use with Devicescape software obtains the right credentials for login when you're at a location in the network. Devicescape also characterizes and provides automated login for open and free locations that would otherwise have a button to check or page to navigate through.

Eye-Fi includes one year of hotspot access in its Explore X2 and Pro X2 models, and those cards will gain access to Devicescape's service in May. On 1 June, you can purchase a year of hotspot service for other cards for $30/yr. Eye-Fi has a special offer until 31 May for Connect X2 and Geo X2 users for $15/yr.

The Geo X2 was announced today, too; it's an Apple Store exclusive. For $70, the 4 GB card includes geolocation, and works seamlessly with Apple's iPhoto software and MobileMe service to transfer pictures and movies. The card also includes the Endless Memory features that deletes images and videos as space is needed that have been confirmed as transferred off the card.

Yes, I know already as a father one shouldn't play favorites. But in the Wi-Fi space, there are some clever firms I've been talking to practically since they started developing products and services in the space. Eye-Fi and Devicescape are two of that select group.

Eye-Fi took an ordinary item, the SD card, and embedded a processor and Wi-Fi radio alongside memory. The company continually improves cards' firmware and desktop software, as well as providing additional useful add-ons. It remains extraordinary to me that camera manufacturers have generally not been able to offer a fraction of what Eye-Fi can with its substantially fewer resources. An increasing number of cameras support specific Eye-Fi features and needs (such as not powering down the camera while transfers are in progress). Eye-Fi is the platinum standard for the industry, while most camera makers are struggling for bronze.

Devicescape has spent years trying to remove the need for users of mobile devices to have to enter tedious data, and enabled equipment with just a few buttons and no touch screen or keyboard to gain access to hotspots that would otherwise be unavailable. Its approach and software should have had an open embrace from Apple in the iPhone OS, and by other phone and gadget makers. Devicescape is still pushing this "many logins, many hotspots, no fuss" approach with new improvements all the time.

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