This guy created a Polaroid camera that spits out moving GIFs

Sure, Polaroid cameras have been spitting out instant photos for years, but what about GIFs, those moving photos that fill up social media feeds? That is exactly what Abhishek Singh, a developer, asked when he set out on his latest project, the InstaGif NextStep that spits out an instant photo that moves.

The InsaGif looks a lot like a Polaroid OneStep Camera and at first glance, works a lot like one too. While the work that went into creating the GIF camera appears anything but simple, taking a GIF is just as simple as using a classic Polaroid: Composing the shot, pressing the shutter, and grabbing the “photo” from the camera.

So how does it work? Instead of spitting out a piece of paper, the InstaGif spits out a cartridge — which is essentially a mini computer, albeit one that is designed to look like a classic Polaroid with that characteristic white frame. The GIF even slowly fades in, just like waiting for that instant film to develop.

The cartridge is designed from a modified Raspberry Pi LCD screen and USB ports, from the organization that creates low-cost computer parts in order to teach coding and development. The cartridge also includes homemade circuits and a rechargeable battery.

An altered Raspberry Pi 3 computer module computer sits inside the camera, along with another screen at the back to see what the camera sees. A  wide-angle lens cut from acrylic also sits in front of a Raspberry Pi camera module. The two Rasberry Pi computers communicate through an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network.

Using the software that Singh developed, the camera records a three-second GIF when the shutter button is pressed. That GIF is then compressed and sent to the cartridge through that Wi-Fi network.

Singh created the body of the cartridge as well as the body of the camera through 3D printing with a ProJet 7000 SLA. When he shared the project on Imgur, Singh said he ran into several challenges, including the mechanism for popping the cartridge out of the camera in that classic Polaroid way. Creating a small cartridge (in order to avoid an extra large camera) was also a challenge.

Singh shared the code and the process to create the camera so other developers can also try building the GIF camera — because who doesn’t want to hold a photo that moves?

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