polaroid gif camera Abhishek Singh

Photo via Abhishek Singh/Imgur

This retro Polaroid camera prints out GIFs

Its inventor included a step-by-step guide for making your own.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Aug 30, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 6:52 pm CDT

Remember that guy who dressed up as Mario and jumped around Central Park playing an augmented-reality version of Super Mario Bros. that only he could see? He’s back with a strange DIY camera that can print out GIFs.

Dubbed the “Instagif NextStep,” Abhishek Singh’s imaginative creation is a brilliant blend of old-school gadgetry and modern-day internet culture. It’s a recreated retro Polaroid camera capable of printing GIFs onto an iPod-shaped cartridge. When you snap a picture, the camera transmits a short video clip to the cartridge’s screen, which loops until you take another picture. What you end up with is a camera that acts a lot like an old Polaroid, but takes a moving picture that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

“I just wanted to build something physical,” Singh told the Daily Dot in an email. “I tend to like GIFs, some of my earlier projects have revolved around them as well and this idea just popped in my head. Something about holding a moving image in your hand sounded intriguing and I chose to go down the rabbit hole”

Here’s a quick video of the camera in action.

The entire project was built by hand using a couple of Raspberry Pi single-board computers, battery packs, and 3D-printed materials. Though there is an element of nostalgia in modeling his camera after a Polaroid, Singh says his design decisions for the NextStep were more about making the product relatable to a wide audience: “Sometimes you just have to package tech in a way that makes it more approachable.”

polaroid gif camera
Photo via Abhishek Singh/Imgur

Instead of choosing to monetize his creation through crowdfunding, Singh posted a detailed how-to with all the necessary code for building your own GIF-printing camera, “I learned a lot from others who chose to share their knowledge on the internet so this is my way of giving back somehow,” Singh said. “Good things come from sharing knowledge.”

This isn’t Singh’s first DIY project. The 28-year-old inventor has a website filled with creative stuff built with new and up-and-coming technologies.

Singh says he’ll keep tinkering with the Instagif camera while working on upcoming projects. He told us he always has another invention in the works, but won’t reveal any details until it’s ready. However, he did give us a hint: “I am really interested in AR, AI, and blockchain so you might see a few projects in those domains from me soon.”

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*First Published: Aug 30, 2017, 7:47 pm CDT