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Impossible Instant Lab turns iPhone snapshots into Polaroid prints


September 12, 2012

The Impossible Instant Lab allows users to instantly turn their iPhone digital photos into Polaroid prints

The Impossible Instant Lab allows users to instantly turn their iPhone digital photos into Polaroid prints

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If you’re old enough, you may fondly remember the gloriously analogue, low-tech world of Polaroid photographs. While the image quality wasn’t great, you instantly got a real, physical photograph that you could stick in your locker, tack to your bulletin board, or use to blackmail someone. If you now use an iPhone for snapping photos, however, it’s become impossible for you to get instant Polaroid prints ... right? Not if the Impossible Instant Lab goes into production.

The device, which is currently in the working prototype stage, is made to resemble the iconic Polaroid SX-70 camera.

Users start by taking photos using their iPhone, as they usually would. Using an included app, they then select one of those images for printing. Next, they pop up the Lab’s telescoping “bellows” (for lack of a better word), place the phone screen-down in a cradle on top of it, and slide open the shutter in the base unit of the Lab. When a timer function in the app proceeds to display the photo on the iPhone’s screen, a single sheet of photosensitive Polaroid film is exposed to the light from that display.

The Lab will let the user know when enough exposure time has elapsed, at which point they close the shutter, push a button, and watch as the device ejects the film. An analogue print of the iPhone’s digital photo will then “magically” come into being before their eyes. This process can be repeated approximately 150 times per charge of the Lab’s lithium-ion battery.

The developers are now raising production funds, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$189 will get you one, when and if they’re ready to go – given that the funding goal has already been exceeded, that looks likely. The estimated retail price is $299, and a version with a cradle suitable for other models of smartphones may be on the way.

... and incidentally, if you’re wondering where the film will come from, the developers actually bought the last existing Polaroid film factory, where they have resumed production. If you're not hung up on using original-style Polaroid film, and don't mind taking photos with a dedicated camera, you can also get instant prints of digital photos using a Polaroid Z2300 digital camera.

More information on the Impossible Instant Lab is available in the pitch video below.

Source: Kickstarter via Uncrate

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I find it laughable that instant film (along with a great number of other "outdated" technologies) gets discontinued due to being deemed obsolete only to have something like this come along a few short years later because of nostalgia. On top of this is a price that far outstrips that of a basic polaroid camera, which this "lab" is ultimately comparable to.

If instant film is so great and nostalgic, why did the consuming public let it wither into obsolescence in the first place?


This is superior to having a portable printer how?


Yeah, what Pikeman said. Huh? Well, OK, for a real corner case, you don't have any source of electricity to, say, charge the batteries in your instant printer. Yes? Hell, it's my idea, and even I don't buy it.

Randolph Lee

Nostalgic, yes! Want one. No. I love digital and if you want one of my pics, I'll e-mail it to you. You can them print as many as you want on glossy paper.

Ken Lowder
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