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Pixlplay finds a use for your old smartphone as a toy camera for kids

Why it matters to you

Pixlplay will teach kids about photography while giving you something to do with that old iPhone 5 that is still lying around.

Now on Kickstarter, Pixlplay from Pixl Toys looks to breathe new life into your retired Android phone or iPhone by turning it into a fun, kid-friendly camera. The $25 accessory is inspired by the design of classic 35mm film cameras and serves double duty as a rugged case to protect your phone. The large, rubberized grip makes it easy for kids to grasp in both hands, and rotating “aperture” and “film advance” dials provide a tactile, if purely skeuomorphic, experience.

While the dials may be fake, the shutter button is real, connecting to your phone’s headphone jack to control the camera (iPhone 7 users will need to use the 3.5mm to Lightning port adapter). Initially, the Pixlplay will come with just an iOS app, which will add the option to paste funny stickers like hats and mustaches over photos. Pixl Toys lists an Android app as a stretch goal, but the Pixlplay will also work with the default camera apps on iOS, Android, and Windows phones (as well as most third-party camera apps).

More: Fashion photographer finds toy camera challenging to use, but not impossible

The Pixlplay is designed to fit virtually all standard-size phones — so no phablets or plus-sized phones — thanks to an adjustable clamp. The Pixlplay could make a good permanent home for an old phone that is otherwise collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, but even new phones should be safe. In addition to the rugged case, a splash-resistant screen cover shields your device while inside, hopefully allaying any fears inherent of handing a phone over to a four-year-old.

Beyond providing fun and entertainment, Pixl Toys says the Pixlplay will teach kids about the basics of photography and encourage creative expression. A collection of “activity cards” will provide creative suggestions for parents and children alike. Pixl Toys says the Pixlplay is appropriate for children ages three and up.

The Pixlplay has raised more than $9,000 so far on Kickstarter with 33 days left in its campaign, well on its way to achieving its $25,000 goal. Pledge tiers that include the Pixlplay start at $20, but spots are limited. As with all crowdfunding projects, a successful campaign does not guarantee delivery of the product.