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09-08-2012, 11:42 AM - 1 Like   #1
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When do we get built-in GPS, wifi, bluetooth, and cellular data LTE?

I've attached an image of a GPS receiver chipset. As you might note, it's rather small. Perhaps of some surprise, this size chipset was available already in 2006 (Rakon Inc). The going rate on this type of chipset is ~$1.75, according to the Iphone 4 Bill of Material (BOM) created by Isuppli.

Beyond the chipset, the only other required item is an antenna. Antenna's are rather easy, the GPS Radio front end (RF) is well documented, and the professional talent is readily available - even a DIY could build a good performing GPS antenna in a few hours with documentation from the net. FCC testing and approval is pro forma and costs a minimal amount.

Costs

  1. From a development budget standpoint, Pentax could cover the board development, RF engineering, and testing for ~$500k.
  2. From a production cost standpoint, Pentax would see the BOM, board production, and QC increase by < $5.
  3. If we consider the units sold to be around 100,000 cameras (most of the RF and board integration work would be 'reusable' in future designs), the total fixed and unit cost to Pentax to add GPS would be < $10 per camera.
Why for?
In my opinion, the lack of built-in GPS on DSLR's can be attributed to a mixture of marketing departments wanting to sell the GPS accessory, and Product Managers being unwilling to educate themselves on RF chipset integration. Neither element will change their thinking until forced by a competitor, or a competing industry (like smartphones). Pentax is not the only DSLR company slow to change, but it might be slower than most in certain respects.

However, the DSLR market is changing and becoming more integrated. As Nikon has shown with the D3200 and the Wifi accessory, and Sony with their app store, DSLR users are looking for more capabilities - not less. It's high time for year 2012 DSLR hardware catch up to 2006 smartphones.

Geotagging is useful today and will be even more useful in the future. Metadata analysis will allow searching of the image library using geotagging data (ie 'find photos from our grand canyon trip last year'). More so, much of the RF work required to add GPS capability could also be used to add Bluetooth and Wifi - and those capabilities would even assist the photography workflow.

Other factors to consider:
  1. Please don't tell me about the Pentax GPS accessory...it's not weather sealed, but it is fragile, clunky, uses the hotshoe, makes the camera hard to store, and is more expensive than it need be.
  2. Ditto to mention adding geotag data with Lightroom, GPS loggers, etc. IMO, it's an unnecessary administrative type task that totally detracts from the creative process that is photography.
  3. Although metal bodies can incorporate antennas (see smartphones), Pentax marketing could even use the antenna's to explain why polycarbonate bodies are preferable.
  4. The effect on battery would be minimal for GPS and Bluetooth (<5% battery life), while adding wifi and LTE would hit battery life by ~10%. These figures are educated guesses based on similar impacts to smartphone battery life.
How much you pay?
To make this a bit more productive, I've posted a few questions:
  1. How much more are you willing to pay for built-in GPS? Personally, I'd pay $50.
  2. How much more for wifi + bluetooth + GPS? Personally, I'd pay $100.
  3. How much more for built in for wifi/bluetooth/GPS + LTE? Yes, I'm talking about being able to upload to the net straight from your phone (either RAW or scaled JPEG). Personally, I'm saying $150 for this combination - and I think pros (and my photo sharing wife) would pay even more.
Wireless in a DSLR body offers a convenience and added function. Like all things, that functionality and convenience has both a value and a cost. I suggest the cost is minimal and the value high; ergo...good business for Pentax.

As it is now, I think Pentax sells a few GPS accessories. If they included wireless onboard, they would sell even more accessories based on advanced flash synch, remote viewers, apps, etc.

Attached Images
 

Last edited by dmytty; 09-08-2012 at 01:12 PM.
09-08-2012, 11:47 AM   #2
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GPS is a huge battery drain, and you can't just turn it off and on all the time and expect it to fix -- it has to stay on.
09-08-2012, 11:51 AM   #3
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The GPS of Pentax accessory is a bit more advance then the little chip you're showing there.

Anyway i'm missing something... why do we need this in our camera?
I use my camera to make photos like most of us, what does GPS, WIFI, Bluetooth, LTE do to help us make a photo?

woohoo i can geotag my photos... i don't need it.
woohoo i can send photos to my computer/phone/tablet without a cable... i shoot RAW so good luck sending photos of 16MB over wifi and what then?
Bluetooth... why?
LTE... i can already see my MB usage 8GB each week.... besides what do i do with photos on the cloud?

Last edited by Anvh; 09-08-2012 at 11:56 AM.
09-08-2012, 12:02 PM   #4
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GPS lock time is not an issue

QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
GPS is a huge battery drain, and you can't just turn it off and on all the time and expect it to fix -- it has to stay on.
In the GPS world, this is referred to as "time to first fix" (TTFF), and most scenarios are 'warm' or 'subsequent'. In any event, this happens in about the time required to turn the camera on, take the picture, look at it, and turn the camera off (ie <10 seconds). In scenarios where you move across the city between pictures it might be a touch slower (and I'm talking a second or two).

Remember, the data can be written after the picture has been taken...it's not like a map application.

Just had another idea! Thanks von...at the very least your resistance to new ideas makes me push back (and that's how I usually develop things...being more stubborn than the naysayers).

09-08-2012, 12:22 PM   #5
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Wifi...bluetooth...gps...lte = convenience & more time for taking pictures!

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
The GPS of Pentax accessory is a bit more advance then the little chip you're showing there.
Not really. All it does is give the location information and the main processor does everything else (ie moving the sensor for nightime star photos). However, the point that GPS receivers have advanced is true, but my point is that physical size wasn't even an issue in 2006.

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Anyway i'm missing something... why do we need this in our camera?
I use my camera to make photos like most of us, what does GPS, WIFI, Bluetooth, LTE do to help us make a photo? woohoo i can geotag my photos... i don't need it.
Probably because you don't get out much? Seriously, if you don't take many pictures in many different places than this is not your thing. On the other hand, I've taken ~10,000 pictures with the K30 in about 500 different locations across 8 states. It would be useful to me. We will put you down as willing to pay $0?

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
woohoo i can send photos to my computer/phone/tablet without a cable... i shoot RAW so good luck sending photos of 16MB over wifi and what then?
Wifi will hardly struggle with a 16 MB file...a few seconds to send that file. Beyond the convenience, there is a very good reason: durability. Hooking up cables or opening memory card doors involves a mechanical connection rated for so many insertions/openings. This is even more of an issue in a weather sealed body. More so, I've forgotten the SD card in my computer a few times - and missed taking photos of a moose in the lake that's in front of Maroon Bells.

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Bluetooth... why?
Flash...remote triggering...remote viewfinder viewing...etc Take a look at Bluetooth 4.0.

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
LTE... i can already see my MB usage 8GB each week.... besides what do i do with photos on the cloud?
Well, pro bodies have ethernet connections so they can send pics to their editors. My wife sends pictures to her friends. I'm not a social media person myself, but on our summer road trip (1 month) I would have definitely sent a few photos to National Geographic or friends (maybe better received by the latter). Again, it's only a convenience, and like all things, that convenience has a value and a cost. I suggest the cost is minimal and the value high. Ergo...good business for Pentax.

As you point out, you like to take photos. Me too. All the cable connecting, photo organizing in folders, etc don't really add anything to the photography experience.
09-08-2012, 12:25 PM   #6
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It is really unnecessary. Many times you have a gps for other reasons, so there is no point having a second one just for photos. I geotagged z2500 photos, with less than 1 hour of my time to attend the program. More likely I could have done it in lass than 15 minutes, and then batch processed it over night. With that little effort, and the fact I needed the gps to navigate anyway, why should I spend more to include it in a camera when I will still have to carry my gps.
09-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #7
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Geologgers are a PITA, inaccurate, and expensive (if your time means anything to you)

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
It is really unnecessary. Many times you have a gps for other reasons, so there is no point having a second one just for photos. I geotagged z2500 photos, with less than 1 hour of my time to attend the program. More likely I could have done it in lass than 15 minutes, and then batch processed it over night. With that little effort, and the fact I needed the gps to navigate anyway, why should I spend more to include it in a camera when I will still have to carry my gps.
Personally, I've used gps loggers and didn't like it.
  1. You have to remember to start the app up on your phone. Why does this have to be on the checklist for taking a picture?
  2. It has to take many more geolocation fixes (because it doesn't know when you're taking a picture). That burns serious battery (ie always on and the apps are never optimized). My GPS logger took about 80 times more gps fixes than I took pictures...and that was with longer intervals (less accurate) and with careful attention to turning on and off.
  3. It will never be as accurate because the gaps between your external device geotags will make for confusion (ie they rely on time stamping and if you take a picture between time stamps, no good). This accuracy will affect the ability for meta analysis in the future.
  4. As you point out, you do need a navigation device. If your navigation device battery is dead from the constant drain of GPS logging, how can you get to the places that you need to in order to take the award winning pics?
Time is money! You've already spent ~1 hour to geotag photos. If you use the camera for 100,000 pictures, you will spend about 40 hours just on this task alone. If you pay yourself $1/hour, does that mean you would be willing to spend about $40 more?
09-08-2012, 12:40 PM   #8
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I geotag my photos -- I have a GPS logger to do so. I'm often carrying a GPS enabled phone + a GPS mapping handheld receiver (for hiking when the phone doesn't work so well). It does take time to get a fix, and when there is no fix and the photo doesn't get tagged, what happens? A million complaints to Pentax -- WHY DOESN'T MY GEOTAGGING work? It would be a nice feature, but I don't really want them wasting time and resources on it when there are better things they can be doing. A better idea for the future is just a smartphone link so that it can communicate with your phone -- then all those apps can run on your phone and the camera doesn't have to worry about them per se other than making the functionality available for apps to add things to EXIF data etc, but it doesn't need to have its own software to do this or that. Then you've got a whole universe open of potential apps. So bluetooth with some basic communication, but dedicated GPS and other battery drains and resource-wasters not needed. Maybe in a few more years...

09-08-2012, 12:43 PM   #9
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GPS logging (with a dedicated logger, not a phone or mapping app) is easy, accurate, and it doesn't take nearly the amount of time some seem to say getting them into your photos -- I do all of mine and it is not a big deal. It certainly doesn't take hours and hours -- just a few minutes.
09-08-2012, 12:53 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmytty Quote
Personally, I've used gps loggers and didn't like it.
  1. You have to remember to start the app up on your phone. Why does this have to be on the checklist for taking a picture?
  2. It has to take many more geolocation fixes (because it doesn't know when you're taking a picture). That burns serious battery (ie always on and the apps are never optimized). My GPS logger took about 80 times more gps fixes than I took pictures...and that was with longer intervals (less accurate) and with careful attention to turning on and off.
  3. It will never be as accurate because the gaps between your external device geotags will make for confusion (ie they rely on time stamping and if you take a picture between time stamps, no good). This accuracy will affect the ability for meta analysis in the future.
  4. As you point out, you do need a navigation device. If your navigation device battery is dead from the constant drain of GPS logging, how can you get to the places that you need to in order to take the award winning pics?
Time is money! You've already spent ~1 hour to geotag photos. If you use the camera for 100,000 pictures, you will spend about 40 hours just on this task alone. If you pay yourself $1/hour, does that mean you would be willing to spend about $40 more?
I already have a gps , not a phone app but a true gps, that records track points by the second to a chip.

When I get back all I do is point the program to thie directory with the track logs, and the photos, make a correction for camera time error, and go. You needed to come back a couple of times to launch different parts of the program but it can and does run in batch mode processing thousands of an images. Your time is only making sure the first image is correctly located
09-08-2012, 12:59 PM   #11
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RF + DSLR. Not as hard as it seems...and more creative opportunity than it seems.

QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
I geotag my photos -- I have a GPS logger to do so. I'm often carrying a GPS enabled phone + a GPS mapping handheld receiver (for hiking when the phone doesn't work so well). It does take time to get a fix, and when there is no fix and the photo doesn't get tagged, what happens? Then you've got a whole universe open of potential apps. So bluetooth with some basic communication, but dedicated GPS and other battery drains and resource-wasters not needed. Maybe in a few more years...
GPS today is a minimal cost both in battery and $. The devices you have, at best use a 65nm process and most likely use a 130nm process (ie 6-10 year old fab technology). The same holds true for Wifi devices you have. They take 2-3x more juice and have 25-50% of the performance of today's chips.

You're right in the sense that Bluetooth would be most useful, but why stop there. With RF, the difficulty is usually in getting the first antenna and chipset integrated. With chipsets integrating more RF functions, it becomes easier to add subsequent functions. Once the chip is on the board and the firmware is integrated, it's only a matter of hooking up additional antennas and writing the software.

And of course there's the System On Chip approach. Qualcomm's Snapdragon family includes chips that have the CPU, Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, and LTE all on the same chip. With stacked memory, that's all there is.

Even for truly custom chips (which Pentax doesn't currently do), all of the functions mentioned could be included in a 'drag and drop' fashion just by licensing the right IP.

If Pentax doesn't have the internal resources, this is something they could easily outsource (as I believe they have done so for the current GPS dongle). However, as photos are about communicating a vision, I think they're missing out on an opportunity to allow their users to share their vision near and far.

As it is now, I think Pentax sells a few GPS accessories. If they included Bluetooth onboard, they would sell even more (flash synch, remote viewers, etc).
09-08-2012, 01:15 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmytty Quote
GPS today is a minimal cost both in battery and $. The devices you have, at best use a 65nm process and most likely use a 130nm process (ie 6-10 year old fab technology). The same holds true for Wifi devices you have. They take 2-3x more juice and have 25-50% of the performance of today's chips.
Well, I just bought them in the last year, so they are "today's" devices. You are talking about tomorrow's devices I guess. I'm sure eventually we'll have GPS implanted in our own heads.

QuoteQuote:
You're right in the sense that Bluetooth would be most useful, but why stop there.
Because every feature you add is a trade-off -- some other feature won't be added. There are other features that actually have to do with photography that I'd much rather have first. Just let it communicate with your smartphone and you'll have all the apps in the world in no time (or you can make your own) and Pentax won't have to handle any of the support. Seems like the way to go.
09-08-2012, 01:18 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Our cameras are already full of enough useless crap. Better they should spend R&D resources on better IQ, faster and more accurate auto focus, etc. Things that really matter.
09-08-2012, 01:21 PM   #14
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I buy the hole..not the drill (I want the function on my camera...not another device)

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I already have a gps , not a phone app but a true gps, that records track points by the second to a chip.

When I get back all I do is point the program to thie directory with the track logs, and the photos, make a correction for camera time error, and go. You needed to come back a couple of times to launch different parts of the program but it can and does run in batch mode processing thousands of an images. Your time is only making sure the first image is correctly located
I'd rather remember to carry another battery pack vs hunt around for the geologger.

The fact is that an Iphone is more convenient for all the post-picture taking activities...and that is unnecessary.

Furthermore, the dedicated geologger is not a free device. Pentax can offer you the same functionality and more for a lower cost (ie for the cost of a chip vs the cost of a device).

You've mentioned that sometimes your geologger doesn't get a quick fix. The new chips use different constellations (the Russian GPS system, etc) and also have faster, more sensitive receivers. When you do upgrade, would you want to buy another dedicated device, or buy a Pentax with integrated location and wireless capabilities?

If Pentax is getting your money, how much for the different functions?
09-08-2012, 01:22 PM   #15
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I personally find geotagging a massive invasion of privacy. Obviously if you buy a dedicated unit, you know it's there and use it for its specific purpose. However I've encountered many, many people unaware that their phones, by default, geotag their photos they take of their cat or child or whatever in the home... and the fact that information can be used quite trivially to reveal their address, which is rather disturbing when they find out, and then have to learn how to disable it in their phones or remove it from exif when uploading to public spaces.

While I can see some applications of it (the astrotracing function appeals personally) or for holiday snaps so people can see where you were, it's not something I would ever want, especially integrated and increasing the price of new bodies. Even if the chip is only a dollar, the engineering and programming behind getting it in the camera is going to raise the price significantly more.
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