3D-printed camera rig helps terminally ill photographer to take pictures

It’s very easy to take for granted things like snapping photos with a DSLR camera. That’s not true for everyone, however, as a recent episode of the BBC show The Big Life Fix makes abundantly clear.

The episode follows the plight of 23-year-old photographer James Dunn, for whom using a camera in the way that most of us can is simply not possible.

“James suffers from a terminal illness called epidermolysis bullosa,” inventor Jude Pullen, who is featured on the program, told Digital Trends. “It basically means that the collagen between the top layer of his skin and the subdermal layer aren’t as adhesive as in normal skin.

“As a result, his skin is very fragile and any dragging movement or pressure, like pressing the button on a camera, is incredibly difficult. His fingers are also fused together, which means that he doesn’t have a fine pressure point that he can easily have any dexterity with. It [additionally] means that the jog wheel on SLR cameras is not accessible to him, and in addition the lens can’t be adjusted manually.”

Fortunately, Pullen and helpers created a solution for Dunn: a motorized, 3D-printed system called a “Zocus,” which lets him control both the zoom and focus of his camera lens using a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone. The results are fantastic to watch.

But you don’t have to stop at simply watching the episode. That’s because Pullen has made Zocus available as an open-source 3D printing project: hopefully, this will open up the possibility of helping other disabled photographers around the globe.

You’ll need access to a 3D printer (or the use of 3D-printing vendors such as Shapeways) and a few other tools, but the finished piece should cost only $100 to $250.

“The pros should be able to skip through the open-source guide very easily, and won’t need to be schooled in things like how to use a soldering iron,” Pullen told us, concerning the instructions he has posted online. “But I’ve assumed very little prior knowledge or experience on the part of readers, so I have tips ranging from using a 3D printer to soldering if you’ve never done this before.”

Mobile

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.
Photography

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?