by Jincy IypeDec 17, 2021
We’re all guilty of clicking photographs of almost anything and everything to document both the mundane and exciting moments from our daily lives. Our phone and cloud storage is bursting at the seams with intangible, digital pictures at most times. We may post the most special ones on social media platforms for others to see, but in the process, we continue to yearn for something more tangible, something more personal, something for keeps beyond bits and bytes. Few things can replace the charm of old school, physical photographs – and here’s where the new Polaroid Lab aims to build a memory bridge.
In order to make the images in your phone come alive and enhance their value by not allowing them to disappear in an endless photo gallery on your phone, the Polaroid Lab turns these digital photographs on one’s phone to polaroids. The new instant camera beams pictures from one’s smartphone, passes it through a three-lens developing system in its body, (functioning as a table top darkroom), and transforms these digital pictures into the classic polaroid film photograph. Designed by Polaroid Originals, it employs a unique Polaroid chemistry in its sleek white and minimalist design.
“Unlimited cloud storage can actually be your memories’ worst enemy, causing your digital photos to skyrocket in numbers and end up falling into a void of oblivion. The idea behind the Polaroid Lab is that it turns your most precious smartphone photos into tangible Polaroid photographs – bringing them into the world as something you can hold in your hand and store on the fridge door rather than in the cloud,” says Oskar Smolokowski, CEO of Polaroid B.V.
Its functional form is divided into two parts – the top where the image is captured by the lens from your smartphone, and the lower part where the image travels onto a polaroid film, enabling a simple, physical interaction. In favour of a more analog approach, the product does not use bluetooth or wifi commands – the phone is placed directly over the Polaroid Lab, and through its own light, exposes the film onto the system of lenses. This engages the user intimately in the whole process of creating a polaroid image, engaging the user emotionally while creating these photographs.
Using the Polaroid Lab
Users can turn the Lab on by pressing the black button on its side. They can then select the preferred image from their smartphone via the Polaroid Originals app (the product does not function without the application). It supports both i-type and 600 film, which one must insert into the bottom of the Lab prior to printing.
Needless to say, the digital picture’s quality will affect the Polaroid’s quality as well. Once you have chosen your picture from the gallery, you now choose the kind of film you’d like the picture to be printed on, as the colour and black and white films have different settings. The smartphone is now to be placed face down on top of the Lab, in parallel, for it to start scanning. Once placed, the Lab signals confirmation by making a ‘ping’ sound and blinking three times.
Next, you need to press the red button at the bottom side for it to start the printing process. The photograph from the phone is now projected onto the film inserted below, and through a combination of light and lenses, is recast as an instant picture that ejects from the Polaroid Lab. You then take the film out of the device and put it upside down to shield it from direct light (much like the earlier methods of developing photographs in a dark room). It typically takes about 15 minutes for a coloured photograph to develop, and five for a black and white one.
The Polaroid Lab literally takes a photograph of your SmartScreen and prints it as a fully-fledged polaroid photograph in a matter of minutes. The device can be charged with the USB cable that comes with it, and can be plugged into your phone charger or your computer.
The whole interaction is a crucial part of the whole experience, furthering the user’s creative control. A rather neat gimmick and well executed idea, the brand has developed its own system of algorithms to embed videos onto the polaroids, enabling augmented reality. So, if you have recorded a short video of a wedding, you can print an image of it with the Lab, and when someone scans it through the Polaroid Originals app, they will see the video play on their phones! Additionally, the Polaroid Lab also has a feature to create collages.
Instant photography is a solid, creative and immersive medium for most people, something that inevitably gets lost with smartphone photography. Can one not print pictures from the phone through a printer? Certainly. But if you are someone who adores the square polaroid form, the almost hazy, discoloured aesthetic, and would enjoy the process of retrieving favourite photographs instantly onto film, decorating your room or adorning these moments onto your fridge, the Polaroid Lab makes it more special and fun. Would you want to give it a shot?