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This gadget turns smartphone snaps into real Polaroids through optical trickery

Polaroid Originals

Can’t decide between a digital Instagram and a physical Polaroid? Using mirrors and optical trickery, Polaroid Originals will soon allow you to have your Instagram and hold it too with the Polaroid Lab, a device that turns digital smartphone photos into real instant film. Announced on Tuesday, September 10, the Polaroid Lab is slated for an October 10 launch.

Unlike Zink mobile smartphone printers, the images from the Polaroid Lab are created with real Polaroid film. With the image selected and on screen, the smartphone is placed face down on top of the Polaroid Lab. Using a mix of mirrors and a three-lens developing system, the Polaroid Lab exposes the instant film to that digital image once the button on the lab is pressed. Then, like any Polaroid camera, the lab spits out an instant print of the image that’s already on your smartphone.

Polaroid Originals calls the device a miniature tabletop darkroom, mixing digital smartphone photography with real film. The accompanying Polaroid Originals app helps create a proper exposure from the digital image, along with adding tools like collages. Augmented reality features are also part of the app.

“Unlimited cloud storage can actually be your memories’ worst enemy, causing your digital photos to skyrocket in numbers and end up falling into a void of oblivion,” said Polaroid BV CEO Oskar Smolokowski. “The idea behind the Polaroid Lab is that it turns your most previous smartphone photos into tangible Polaroid photographs — bringing them into the world as something you can hold in your hand and store on the fridge rather than in the cloud.”

Mobile printers aim to capitalize on the resurgence of instant photography — a majority of them use Zink paper to print out an image. The Polaroid Lab follows devices like the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2, a printer that uses Bluetooth to transfer the image but creates a chemical reaction on real instant film rather than using ink. The battery-free Holga printer uses a similar take to the Polaroid Lab by exposing an image from the smartphone screen.

Polaroid Originals was created in 2017 when The Impossible Project acquired the brand, as well as the last remaining Polaroid factory, in order to continue producing film for vintage Polaroids as well as the more modern renditions.

The Polaroid Lab begins shipping next month and is expected to retail for $130.

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