u-blox Acquires Geotate, GPS Geotagging Solutions

u-blox Holding AG announced that u-blox AG has acquired Geotate B.V. (a joint venture between Road Group Holding AG and NXP B.V.). Geotate develops state-of-the-art GPS geotagging solutions based on software GPS technology and related web services. The acquisition represents an important strategic step for u-blox, as it allows the company to expand its position in the consumer markets with unique GPS geotagging solutions for digital camera manufacturers and other portable device manufacturers.

Key terms of the transaction include:

  • Patented technology and products in the area of software GPS and geotagging GPS
  • Total consideration EUR 5.5 million in cash
    • of which EUR 2.0 million for a royalty free patent license arrangement with NXP B.V. for selected patents
    • and of which EUR 3.5 million for the outstanding shares of Geotate B.V.
  • u-blox will integrate the Geotate business into its existing activities to leverage and further strengthen the mutual commercial activities

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. 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. Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs and video.

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. IMS Research forecasts that the GPS Camera market will grow to over 40 million units in 2012, across both professional and consumer orientated cameras. They highlight Geotate’s Capture and Process GPS technology as enablers of this potential growth in their research report “The Worldwide Market for GPS in Portable Devices”. Popular photosharing 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.”

“u-blox is recognized in the industry as a leading global supplier of GPS solutions,” added Hans Streng, CEO of Geotate. “This is a clear win-win as our customers will benefit from the combination of a revolutionary technology and a globally well established and trusted partner. Together, we will be able to drive our shared vision of accelerating the development and adoption of location-enabled products for consumers and commercial mass markets.”

Analyst and press conference call in German, Monday, 30 March, 14pm
u-blox will be hosting an analyst and press conference call in German
For additional information, please see the presentation on our website: www.u-blox.com/investors/IR_presentations.html

About Geotate’s technology
In contrast to normal GPS receiver technology the process of determining a position is split into two steps: A first step of capturing raw signal data for a fraction of a second, which is stored on the device, and a second step of data processing for calculating the position from this stored raw data which is typically performed on a PC. This receiver technology “Capture & Process”, offers significant advantages for low power and speed, optimizing the user experience dramatically, as in line with the normal point-and-shoot when taking a picture. The data processing on a PC benefits from the availability of aiding data which makes the system beneficial for high sensitivity and robustness. Geotate’s unique technology can be embedded into cameras to instantly tag digital images with their location – auto geotagging, as it is known. Its auto geotagging technology is low power, and easy to integrate into digital cameras and similar portable devices. Most critically, the technology overcomes the limitations of traditional GPS solutions, for example battery drain, time to fix, indoor location issues and cost. Geotate software enables users to easily get more from their digital image collection; improving visualisation, cataloguing and search. Additionally Geotate offers Software GPS, a technology where the majority of the GPS signal processing is being done by software on a standard embedded processor of portable devices such as smart phones or media players. This solution is effective for all such systems that have a powerful processor as a system back bone, and such resources are available for various applications. This form of receiver offers the lowest cost possible for a navigation positioning engine.

About Geotate
Geotate provides geotagging software and services to camera manufacturers and the digital imaging industry. Geotate is a recent spin-off from NXP B.V, previous Philips, has its headquarters in Eindhoven, Netherlands and a R&D office in Reigate, UK and has approximately 31 employees, mostly experienced GPS engineers.

About u-blox
u-blox is a fabless semiconductor provider of embedded positioning and wireless communication solutions for the consumer, industrial and automotive markets. The company’s solutions enable people, devices and machines to locate and communicate their exact position – reliably, instantly and accurately. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules and wireless design services, u-blox is uniquely positioned to enable its OEM customers to develop feature-rich and innovative solutions quickly and cost-effectively. Headquartered in Switzerland and with global presence in Italy, UK, the USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, u-blox is employing 186 people. The company was founded in 1997 and is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.