Geotagging: u-blox Buys Geotate

Typical implementation of geotagging in camera. Source: Geotate

In a €5.5-million cash deal, u-blox AG, of Thalwil, Switzerland, has acquired Geotate B.V. and its patented technology and products in the area of software GPS and geotagging GPS.

The acquisition will enable u-blox to expand its position in consumer markets with geotagging solutions for digital camera manufacturers and other portable device manufacturers.

In a €5.5-million cash deal, u-blox AG, of Thalwil, Switzerland, has acquired Geotate B.V. and its patented technology and products in the area of software GPS and geotagging GPS.

The acquisition will enable u-blox to expand its position in consumer markets with geotagging solutions for digital camera manufacturers and other portable device manufacturers.

Geotate is a joint venture between Road Group Holding AG, of Zug, Switzerland, and NXP B.V., a semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The company launched its first Snapshot product at the 2008 International Photo Marketing Association conference.

Key terms of the transaction include:

The €5.5 million includes €2 million for a royalty-free patent license arrangement with NXP and €3.5 million for the outstanding shares of Geotate B.V. u-blox will integrate the Geotate business into its existing operations.

Through the acquisition, u-blox will gain access to a broad GPS patent portfolio and will be able to expand its GPS offering with GPS geotagging products. According to the company, these products are based on Geotate’s software GPS technology “Capture and Process,” which enables portable devices to automatically add a geotag to a picture in a fraction of a second without compromising the user experience or the devices’ power consumption.

The potential of geotagging in cameras is promising: The volume of digital images is growing rapidly and along with it the need for web-based sharing, browsing and searching. Although a number of GPS cameras are currently on the market, sales remained below a million units in 2006 (out of 100 million digital cameras shipped that year), according to IMS Research. However, IMS forecasts that the GPS camera market will grow to over 40 million units in 2012, across both professional and consumer orientated cameras.

The research company highlights Geotate’s Capture and Process GPS technology as enablers of this potential growth in its research report “The Worldwide Market for GPS in Portable Devices.” Popular photo-sharing websites such as Flickr, Picasaweb and Apple’s latest version of iPhoto already offer users new ways to further organize and share their images based on location-tags.

“The opportunity to acquire a company with extensive GPS geotagging expertise accelerates u-blox strategic initiative to advance its offering for the consumer mass market,” said Thomas Seiler, CEO of u-blox. “With two unique solutions — our existing standalone u-blox 5 positioning technology and the new GPS geotagging technology — we are uniquely positioned to offer camera manufacturers solutions for high volume, low power and space sensitive devices.”

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