Trippy Clip lens gives your smartphone camera a far-out feeling, no drugs required

As good as they are, the fixed lenses in iPhones and other smartphones are limited in what they can do. And it’s this limitation that has opened up a world of third-party lens accessories that do everything from adding special effects to zooming up-close and far out. The new Trippy Clip is part of the former: It’s billed as the “world’s first color changing lens system” that gives your camera phone a 180-degree field-of-view and adds a unique effect onto photos and videos. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

The Trippy Clip lens system is similar in concept to ones like Olloclip, but its spring-loaded design allows the lens to fit onto a variety of mobile devices, whether it’s the corner lens of an iPhone or iPad, or the centered ones of Android devices. It can even be used over the camera of your laptop. Because it’s hardware, it doesn’t matter what type of camera app you like to use. The startup has developed two lenses: a fisheye and a circular holographic prism.

The lenses’ name comes from the trippy prism effect that’s created. The company says it’s using a proprietary patent-pending, “nano-tech powered holographic lens” that’s made in Los Angeles, combined with other parts made in China and assembled by hand in San Francisco. All components are described as high-quality, such as aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel springs. With the way it captures light, it gives photos a soft look (the company says it’s been described as “Technicolor” or “3D vision”) with that extra kick of a prism effect. “We’re building the most creative lenses for mobile photographers,” the company says.

What’s more interesting is its inventor, a young man named Connor Brereton. Describing himself as a self-taught engineer and entrepreneur, the 20-year-old started to write and file patents at 19. Brereton says it’s just the beginning: He plans on further developing the system. He has already developed a prototype that fits over GoPro cameras, as well as Google Glass and smart watches. He’s also hoping the experience learned from the project could help him as he pursues an electrical engineering degree. Launching a product like this on your own isn’t easy; even an established company like Lensbaby went the crowdfunding route when it was developing the Sweet Spot Lens.

As for the Kickstarter campaign, a pledge of $30 will get you one Trippy Clip Fisheye lens, which the company plans to ship in July 2015; $20 and $25 early bird specials are also available. A Prism lens will cost $40, and it goes up from there. An $800 “developer package” will get you one for GoPro and an opportunity to help Brereton develop the system.

With the millions of photos that are uploaded daily, smartphone photography isn’t going to die down anytime soon, but accessories like the Trippy Clip are a way to help you differentiate yours from the masses.

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