Interview With Yuval Koren, CEO Of Eye-Fi

If you have never heard of Eye-Fi, take a moment to read this. Eye-Fi was founded in 2005 and is the premier company in offering Wi-Fi enabled SD card technology. In simple terms, Eye-Fi puts a Wi-Fi module into a standard SD card. After connecting to a local wireless access point – or any Wi-Fi enabled device, the card will wirelessly send pictures taken from the camera to said device.


For example, if I am using a Pro-sumer camera, with a 35mm lens and a 12 megapixel imaging chip, upon insertion of this card I can beam my pictures directly to my notebook, where they will be saved too (as well as on the SD card). This will directly cut down the time it takes for me to transfer pictures and video. A real life situation would involve anyone working in a photo studio, who then needs to go and edit the pictures as soon as possible.

Find below our official interview with Yuval Koren, CEO of Eye-fi.

Benny Sabghir: Let’s talk a little about Eye-Fi, what is the company up to?

Yuval Koren: Around this time in 2011, we released our Direct Mode technology which for those who are using smartphone or tablets it allows them to create a direct Wi-Fi connection with those devices to get your content right to your mobile device. We worked hard to develop our software to make this action happen seamlessly. As we have been looking at this one of the things we have seen is that over 80 percent of our customers who are coming and seeing how to get their digital camera connected, are also using a smartphone and engaging with our applications. As we talked with them, we realized a lot of the same questions that they have around how they get a better handle around their digital camera workflow, a lot of those same questions apply to content taken with their phones. Let’s say it’s a household with a husband and wife. They are each taking photos with their devices, how do they share (what’s taken) with those devices. They each want to have that content on their computer, so they can put something together to create a project to share with family all over the world. For a lot of folks, it’s actually just as awkward to get that content off of their phones as it is out of their camera. We talked to people who say “Yeah, I emailed myself the photos. I tried to do this, I tried to do that”. And so it’s clear to us that one of the things that have happened here is that the electronics industry has given people a lot of devices to work with. The apps and the services behind them, haven’t yet caught up with that, to make it all feel seamless, to make it in a sense as easy as it was when we all just started owning these devices. We think that opportunity exists in a number of different segments if you will. In particular interest to us, and a lot of people is “how do you make this work, how do you make this seamless for photos and videos?”. So it’s something we have done a lot of thinking about. And just a ton of learning we have done on the digital camera side, how do we bring that to people to modify easily?

BS: Ideally, if I were using a DSLR like that (pointing to nearby DSLR), assuming I had someone to carry around a notebook or tablet, I pop the Eye-Fi card into my camera and boom – the person carrying around the device I am connected to has the content and can now edit it.

YK: A lot of people are doing that from a portability perspective, people are doing that with tablets. Especially as they are much easier to carry around (compared to notebooks) and offer a much larger, higher resolution screen, to view those images with. They are very easy to carry in your bag. We worked with a small company in Japan who has created an iPad camera bag. There is a slot for your iPad, and you can have it out when taking photos, and whether it’s you, or someone with you, you can stream your content right over to it, via your Eye-Fi enabled camera.

BS: Later today when I get back to my home in Brooklyn, I am going to have to connect my phone to my computer to copy over a large number of photos and videos and sort through it all.

YK: Yep.

BS: …And then I am going to have to dig through those images and find the content we (GadgetAdvisor.com) will find relevant for our purposes. It is going to be a bit of a hassle. However, it is necessary that I do this in a timely manner.

YK: Indeed. You appreciate the issue. For someone who this isn’t their line of work, and they’re not in technology, the things that are a hassle for you are out of range for them. So making that seamless and actually fun, as apposed to a chore is a big part of what we wake up and think about everyday.

BS: Would you care to talk a little bit about Eye-Fi’s beginning?

YK: Sure! We founded the company in 2005 out in Mountain View, California.  The genesis moment was a very simple realization. It came when I was actually here in New York, out in the bay area going to a friends wedding. It’s the classic situation where a lot of people were taking photos and at the end of the event everybody goes home, and for all the reasons you described those photos don’t get to the right people. Because people don’t do the work required to get them from their cameras to their computers in due time. It was as if a light bulb went off and we asked ourselves “Why are we still living this way?” and this was pre-smartphone and a lot of the trends we are looking at now. So we got together some truly talented folks and we created this truly unique category, and showed the world you can do things with a memory card form factor that they never truly believed possible.

Now a couple of years later, we are starting to see some of the camera manufacturers imitating some of what we put into the market and copying the recipes that work. Of course, we are already thinking about what comes next. Its been a great ride until here, and again if I were to summarize what’s changed over the last 4-5 years, at that point the problem space was “Well if I have a couple of digital-cameras and a couple of computers…” and that’s just exploded now where you have so many different devices that capture content, so many different devices where you want to engage with that content. And so it’s really turned the problem on its head. So in our view, a lot of those other companies are catching up to where we were a couple of years ago, yet we are already looking at where is the ball going to be down the road, and how do we get in front of that?

BS: Do you see where the ball is supposed to be down the road in say, two years from now?

YK: We think we do, and I think there’s a couple of things we talked about “how do I turn these things that are currently chores and such that I rather put off” into how to provide a compelling service that makes it effortless and in a moment makes it connect to other devices. There is a lot of thinking we are doing in that area – nothing specific that we are ready to talk about today, but we are getting their. As we talked to camera manufacturers, it’s no longer enough just to get these devices connected to Wi-Fi or whatever your network of choice is. You have got to get your arms around really opening these platforms up to developers or 3rd parties who come in and really make this an experience that your everyday consumer will find as hapless as possible. That – is the future we are heading towards

BS: All right then, thank you so much for your time Yuval, I hope you enjoy the rest of your time attending CE Week, as well as your stay inNew York.

YK: Thank you, Benny. I hope the fine readers of Gadget Advisor will appreciate this interview. Bon Voyage!

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