Ever wonder what happened to the old Polaroid cameras—you know point, click, shoot, and out pops your photo? Very cool technology for a society that expects, no demands, instant gratification.
Polaroid photos were great while they lasted, but their pictures have become obsolete with new digital photography.
However, Polaroid has a new architecture to transform itself. They have developed a pocket printer to enable the printing of digital photos from cell phones and cameras.
MIT Technology Review, 7 January 2008, reports that Polaroid’s “new handheld printers produce color photos using novel thermal-printing technology developed at Polaroid spinoff Zink Imaging…[and] will be priced at less than $150.”
How does the pocket printer work?
“The printer is about the size of a deck of cards. A user who takes a picture on a cell phone or camera can wirelessly send the file to the printer using Bluetooth, a common short-range wireless technology used in cell phones, or PictBridge, a wireless technology found in a number of cameras. The result is a two-inch-by-three-inch photo printed on paper engineered by Zink.”
Where does the printer cartridge go in the small pocket printer?
The printing technology is similar to that of a common thermal printer…since Zink’s technology eliminates the need for printer cartridges…it has led to the smallest printers on the market, and it could eventually be integrated into cell phones and cameras. It would also dispense with the inconvenience of ink cartridges that unexpectedly begin to run out of ink, and which have to be replaced. “When you go to replace an ink-jet cartridge today, it’s in the $40 range,” Herchen says. With Zink, a person pays only by the print. Polaroid expects to sell the photo paper for $0.30 a page.”
What challenges does the pocket printer face?
“People are accustomed to e-mailing pictures to each other or sending them to each other’s phones, and they probably won’t want to carry around another gadget just to print pictures on the spot.” But this concern can be obviated if the printer can be integrated into the cell phone or camera, in essence creating a modern digital Polaroid camera equivalent.
From a User-centric EA perspective, you’ve got to hand it to Polaroid to extend their expertise in instant photography to the digital photo age. They have come up with a novel idea and have executed on it, so that it is standards-based (Bluetooth and PictBridge), interoperable with other technologies (cell phones and cameras), small and affordable—thus, appealing to end-users. It would be nice to see the pocket printer work with MS Office applications, so I can print my blog and other work on the go.