Modular instant camera concept offers a new way to create and share memories

The Polaroid brand has become synonymous with instant cameras that are experiencing a renaissance these days. But while the retro fever has people printing out square format photos again, the designs of these modern instant cameras left some things to be desired. Yes, they recreated the feeling of holding a large and chunky camera, but they might have done it too perfectly to meet the needs and tastes of today’s mobile photographers and creators. Smartphones offer more flexibility and features but at the expense of that authentic instant camera experience. This product concept tries to bring the best of both worlds together through a design that can adjust to your needs rather than the other way around.

Designers: Daphne Hernández, Paola García Higuera, Gonzalo Barba, Ricardo Zerón, Ximena Bravo Barreto, George Gonzalez, Cristian Tovar

The earliest modern instant cameras try to stay faithful to the Polaroid design by eschewing modern conveniences like LCD screens and photo editing prior to printing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, portable photo printers try to provide the same instant printing experience without requiring a separate camera from the one you already have in your pocket. But while smartphones offer a lot of powerful photo editing features, many people find the camera user experience a bit artificial or even forced because of the design of the phone and the connotations that come with it.

The Polaroid DUO concept solves this duality by ironically embracing it. It splits the instant camera into two distinct parts: the camera module and the printer. The camera is a small, lightweight square reminiscent of action cameras that you can attach or hang anywhere so that you’re ready to take photos or record videos anytime. The compact design, which includes a touch screen on the back to tweak the photos’ properties after the fact, offers a more engaging and fun way to take photos without being too conspicuous or flashy like a smartphone.

You can use the camera module on its own and print the photo later, or you can slot it into the larger printer module to make it behave exactly like a traditional instant camera. You don’t lose any of the functionality, however, since you can still access that touch screen. What you get, instead, is a unique character and the experience of holding a fun-looking chunky box up whenever you want to capture the moment and print out the memory right then and there.

Polaroid DUO is definitely an intriguing concept, one that makes you wonder why no one has implemented it yet. It combines the powerful functionality of smartphones with the elements of fun from instant cameras in a way that doesn’t sacrifice one for the other. There might be some implementation details that will need to be ironed out, but most of the technologies needed to make this design a reality are ripe for the picking.