February 18, 2008

Idea: The last product Polaroid should make

You may have heard the recent announcement that Polaroid will stop making instant film soon. They’re manufacturing just enough to last through 2009, and then they’re shutting down the factories. That gives them almost two years to develop what I think should be the last Polaroid product: a digital picture frame that makes sure the familiar look of a Polaroid photo lives on.

You just put your memory card in a slot on the bottom of the frame, and navigate using the touch screen to select whether you want to view your photos in “Standard” mode, which functions like any other digital picture frame, or in “Classic” mode, where each photo slowly fades into view over the course of a minute or so while you watch and wonder what photo is coming up. (In Classic mode, you can try shaking the frame to make the photo fade into view more quickly, but it won’t really do anything).

If you’re the sort of person who prefers to pin your Polaroid pictures to your cork board in your cubicle, you can take advantage of this innovative feature: The stand on the back of the frame can rotate to an upward position, sticking up above the top of the frame and revealing a hole for you to stick a pushpin through. The rechargeable internal battery allows you to showcase your photos that way even if you don’t want a wire dangling down from your cork board.

The bottom portion of the frame features a dry erase surface, so you can write your own title for your slideshow by hand, using a dry erase marker. Because sometimes it’s nice to preserve at least a little bit of the old way of doing things.

Previously: Idea: The Digital Jewel Box


Digital picture frames have been done before and have failed to gain much traction. People prefer to print their photos for display, both because they look better (high resolution) and also because they last longer than the impermanence of an ever-changing digital display.

I bet there’s some technophobia in there too. Displaying pictures is not a problem most people look to technology to solve.

I agree completely with Ryan B., but there’s another aspect I think should be taken into account.

I would never even think about buying a digital picture frame display, because I have no need or use for it. But I would buy this product, because I’m a nostalgic sap.

There’s something to be said for human attachment to inanimate objects and brand images. I’m just not ready to start considering Polaroid snapshots a thing of the past.

If it wouldn’t be too expensive I’d buy it without second thought!
*btw* they just stop producing analog film. Afaik, they just bought zink and launched this: http://www.polaroid.com/onthego/tech.html

Abby Miller: Have you seen the show “Mad Men” on AMC? In the season finale, the main character does a branding pitch to Kodak execs on the “Carousel” product. I think it expresses your sentiment exactly.


My first grown up camera was the Polaroid land camera, that I got for my birthday when I was eleven. I remember when I could no longer get black and white film for it (I used this camera into the early 90’s for those nostalgic photos). This is a sad day indeed. Part of my childhood is gone with this news.

Wow that Mad Men clip was amazing.

I love this Polaroid idea too. They need to capitalize on the nostalgia before it’s forgotten completely.

I think this is a neat idea too. I would probably buy one. I think it should apply a slight filter to each photo, blurring it slightly and giving it that funky color saturation and contrast that Polaroid photos have.

The icing on the cake would be adding in an aging filter… as the photos get older, they fade slightly and turn brownish green.

simple Idea - the lower frame should be a E-Ink-Display, so you could write a plain text file for each photo, with the same filename, jus an .TXT ending.

So you could have a shuffeling mode and the caption will be always right

I’m actually going to pass this on to my friends and get everyone to submit your suggestion to Polaroid website… “IronicSans.com Suggestion” :)

This was the Customer Relations email address provided by the Polaroid website…

That is an awesome idea and if the price was right, I would totally buy it.

The main reason why I haven’t bought a digital picture frame yet is because of its entirely unnecessary energy consumption. In a time where we need to be more conscious about how we “waste” our energy, a digital picture frame is the last thing that should be on our minds.

However, I share your nostalgia, I took plenty of photos with my Polaroid back in the 80s. Did you know that the films have a used-by date? Keep a couple of those and leave them lying around a few years past their use-by date, then use them to take pictures. The results are extraordinary!

I love this idea! It looks like a Flickr set in your hand.

I invented the digital picture frame in 1999. Polaroid was the second company I pitched it to; Kodak was the first. Kodak knocked me off, Polaroid ultimately passed. I manufactured and marketed it myself under the Digi-Frame brand and lost my life’s savings in the process. Last Christmas they finally took off. Timing is everything :-)

I have been toying with the idea of matting photos for the wall in Polaroid-like dimensions and maybe handwriting a caption at the bottom, old-school style. This is like a digital version of that!

Someone heard of ZINK? ( http://www.zink.com/ ) Polaroid is involved, too. Just look at the picture of the mini printer. Sounds like a worthy successor for instant film.

via http://www.golem.de/0802/57798.html

Ryan says something many of us geeky types think.

But I think he’s wrong - because we aren’t the market for that product.

My grandma has a digital picture frame loaded up with scanned photos from her entire life, and she loves that thing. (It also takes up a lot less space than a zillion framed prints).

Stores have plenty of space devoted to picture frame products; that suggests someone’s buying them. It’s just not use geeks.

(Also, Fuji still makes Land film, and Polaroid’s talking about selling the tooling to Whoever Might Want It, so it’s not the end of instant film, just instant with the Polaroid name.)

Matthias: They don’t use that much power (as a bonus, a backlit one is visible in the dark, and uses far less power than lighting a room to see your printed pictures)… but in all seriousness, if one is worried about “energy use”, the sensible thing to do is not to worry about “wasting” power on a picture frame, but to promote nuclear power, which is cheap and clean and “renewable” and everything else that makes kittens frolic and flowers bloom.

Digital frames haven’t quite taken off primarily because of the price point I think. With storage devices getting impossibly big we now have more pictures then ever and it would be impossible to print all the ones we’d like to share.

Also, on the energy note, would a digital picture frame really take more energy that it would to produce all those reams of paper and ink and printers and frames and albums needed to support printed pictures?

I completely agree with the above post. I think digital picture frames will become more popular once they find a way to make them cheaper and more user friendly.

great! I would also bought it!
Not looking for a HQ picture frame for my main wall at home, but something funny to put in my desktop at work or so

I’d love a digital frame - the only reason I haven’t got one is the problem of having to commit a card to it. I’d want it to have wifi and automatically grab photos from my flickr feed. I could go in and add preferences like ‘tend to older/newer photos’ or ‘preferred tags’.

I could set it to random, and increase the chance of certain tags being grabbed. I could say ‘never show a photo in this set’, ‘only show photos in this set’, ‘50% of the time, show photos in these sets, the rest of the time go random’ and so on.

Everything would be configurable over the network….

Photos would be cached to allow for network outage.

I think that digital picture frames work great for organizing sets of photos into one form or a particular event or person.

almost looks like an iMac frame…

if people prefers prints than digital frames - why not make a portable polaroid printer which prints direct from digital camera or PC\Mac.

Sure lots of manufacturers already have portable printers but nothing beats Polaroid-style photos. Hp\Canon\lexmark should consider buying the “Polaroid” name.

Love the design, and, yes, I would buy it. Depending on the price, I might buy quite a few. In the future, I’m convinced ‘smart paper’ type displays will yield something like this that’s even thinner and can grab photos from the internet or a local wireless connection. Of course, by then consumers may be nostalgic for something else and the skin design might have copper tubing or something.

I just saw this on Engadget, who found it on Wired, who found it on Shiny Shiny, who found it on Gizmodo, who took it from Gizmodo EspaƱol. Your gettin’ around my friend

Why not marry a frame like this with Zink printer add-on. The best of both worlds!

Find a picture you like you like and print it for a friend. Beats the little 1.5” screen you sometimes find on a printer or camera.

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Best reagards

I am having trouble with my i631 6.0 megapixel digital camera. I can not get the lens to retract back in. The camera is only 3 months old. Who do I contact to get a new camera or to get this one fixed?

Is it true you got contacted by Polaroid about taking this project forward for real? Just saw a post on Engadget about it.

This is by far the best idea for a digital photo frame. Once color e-ink is doable, this would be super low-energy to run. I’ll buy a couple of them.

Ok - the first digital photo frame I would actually want to buy… Let’s see it in production! FUN!

I’ve always liked digital photo frames (although never bought one because of the price), but this is a pretty cool idea. Imagine if it was made really thin - that would be a really nice product.

David, I just had THE BEST idea!
Put in one of those kinetic energy things, so shaking the “photo” actually powers up the battery!
And then no need to charge it!!

I want one and I was disappointed to find out they didn’t make it’s not real. :(

It is a great idea and if you get someone to make it, I’d buy it. I have digital frames and most people I know have them. Suggestion: Make it work on rechargeable batteries. Most (inexpensive) digital frames need to be plugged in. I like the kinetic energy idea but how much shaking would that take?

If only there was a way to print photographs and store them in a frame…like a painting, but a photograph in a frame.

Perhaps, one day, someone will invent a camera that takes pictures and instantly makes a print.

I do not need a portable printer, but I sure could use a portable camera that made instant prints…but that is just crazy talk, I know.