Last year, the web-enabled instant camera called Socialmatic was but a concept.

Now, an agreement between the designer and Polaroid may make the camera a reality.

The deal also includes accessories, like this carrying case.

The 16GB camera will have an 18.5-inch-square screen.

It will allow you to apply retro-ish filters to your photos before uploading them to Facebook, Instagram, or a yet-to-be-designed Socialmatic app.

A Zink (zero ink) printer, a bit like Polaroid’s own, lets you print out sticky-backed images on demand.

A price estimate is forthcoming, but previous estimates put the camera at around $350.

Co.Design

No Joke: Polaroid Plans To Produce The Instagram Camera By 2014

The camera’s designer has entered into a contract with Polaroid to develop the concept.

When we last wrote about Socialmatic, the concept for a web-enabled instant camera that uploads your snaps to Instagram and prints them out using an on-board printer, it was but a twinkle in the eye of Italian inventor Antonio De Rosa. The patently ridiculous industrial design, which is based on Instagram’s iOS icon, seemed as technically impossible as it was functionally unnecessary. And it seemed even less likely to materialize after De Rosa’s Indiegogo campaign failed to raise funds necessary to produce the camera, last year.

Yet it seems that Socialmatic hasn’t been relegated to the back pages of a portfolio just yet. This week, De Rosa announced a partnership with one C&A Licensing LLC, a company that licenses the Polaroid brand. According to a statement, C&A will help De Rosa bring the Socialmatic to market by early 2014. “It’s been a long and difficult negotiation,” De Rosa said, adding, “this mix of hardware and software, together with our brand new photo social network will fill the gap between virtuality and reality.”

If you missed the first round of press coverage, Socialmatic is a 16GB camera with a 4-inch-wide screen. It lets you apply retro-ish filters to your photos before uploading them to Facebook, Instagram, or a yet-to-be-designed Socialmatic app. A Zink (zero ink) printer, a bit like Polaroid’s own, lets you print out sticky-backed images on demand.

Despite being deeply embedded in Instagram culture, Socialmatic has no affiliation with the social photo app. Which is incredibly strange—the face of the device is plastered with Instagram’s SLR camera logo, and every picture it prints out is accompanied by a QR code link to your Instagram account. Socialmatic is piggybacking on the wild popularity of the Instagram brand, and unless it comes up against any legal problems, could fool a whole lot of people. Doubly so when you add a Polaroid endorsement into the mix—the value of those two brand associations alone are transforming Socialmatic into a legitimate product.

De Rosa was hesitant to comment on what’s changed since he struck his deal with C&A. When asked if the deal had affected the design, he answered a cryptic, “Could be. It depends on some technical situations.” One of those technical situations could be the Zero Ink printing technology, which would drive the cost up. But according to De Rosa, the release date is still too far out to make a guess on Socialmatic’s price tag. “It will be for everyone,” he assured me (a previous estimate was $350).

It’s a deeply zany idea—after all, isn’t this thing doing what your iPhone could do, minus the printing?—but the response has been massively positive online. For Polaroid enthusiasts, it hints at nostalgia while maintaining a foothold in the digital world. At the same time, Instagram users seem to love the idea as a way to bolster their street cred as legit artists. For tech geeks, the thing has the ironic allure of an instant collectible, with a name that already sounds dated. In an odd way, it might be the perfect addition to the snapshot-crazed market.

[H/t Design Taxi]

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22 Comments

  • I don't see any instagram logos 'plastered' on this camera. If you're referring to the rainbow stripes, better take a history lesson. I can't defend the company that was formally Polaroid, they're idiots, full stop. But short of providing any facts that the reporter failed to mention in this article, I can't see how this camera is a failure. Is it just cool to knock polaroid? ok, fine i'm no fan of a company that hires Gaga to "design" its electronic gadgets either. But doubtful words spoken in dubious tones don't make good journalism. Are you mad at Zink technology? yeah its not a real film photo, sure. Do you have any idea what it would take to fit real instant film in this camera? the film cartridges themselves are thicker than the entire unit as is! You'd have to come up with some DAC to convert the digital data to light among other footnote challenges. Its an interesting product that will fail for a number of reasons, none that this article mentions though.

  • Eliza Aldous

    The popularity of this product will skyrocket. Every instagram lover will love this camera! This camera is now on my wishlist. The creativity of the design and the compact shape are perfect!

  • SOMETHIN' SPECIAL!

    I WANT THIS SOO BAD! THEY NEED TO COME OUT WITH THIS ASAP!!!!
    I NEED TO  START SAVING  MY MONEY LIKE PRONTO!

  • Lauren Godinez

    Are you kidding? I plan on buying and using that for a photo booth at my wedding in 2014. Infinitely cheaper than renting a real photo booth! Awesome!

  • Fangled

    Well, it's cool but do we really need another fancy gadget to distract us from the real world.

    I guess i'm on the wrong website.

  • Baiju M

    Design and appearance is compelling. Will that make this product a success? Popularity of Instagram was the features + portability in a phone on which this runs. People now a days doesn't carry an additional camera when they have a phone which can do the job. Same logic applies here.
    What ever features this product provides can very well be built into Instagram.

  • nap12

    Brilliant. This bridges a lot of gaps. At the same time this could be on the road to ruining  the creative "phoneography" crowd. This all depends on what's under the hood and if instagram accepts the change. 

  • dp

    maybe it's a typo, but an 18.5 inch screen doesn't sound very portable or convenient

  • Kelsey

    Hey dp, that's in square inches--so it's a couple of inches long and a couple wide.