Polaroid Catcher Make Print Screen Do What It Says


As part of their coursework at ITP New York a group of students developed the Polaroid Catcher. It’s a way to make your digital experiences more permanent. When you have something on-screen that you’d like to keep as a memory you can print the screen on this old Polaroid camera. Of course you’re not going to get the chemical-filled container you may remember from ages past. But we thing you’d agree the nostalgic camera makes a nice enclosure for a modern image printer.

The workings of the system are shown off quite well in the clip after the break. But we’re always interested in the particulars of how they pulled it off. The system uses a Google Chrome extension to capture what is being displayed in the browser. Before the image is sent to the printer the user has the opportunity to frame up the subject of the photo. Once decided, the image is pushed to a Bluetooth photo printer using some scripts written by the team.

6 thoughts on “Polaroid Catcher Make Print Screen Do What It Says

    1. Doooo it! Carriages hacked out of the innards of floppy drives are very small. You could arrange them in a little cube inside the camera. Probably wouldn’t be printing in ABS or other things that need heat though.

  1. I have a Bluetooth photo printer myself. An xmas present from a couple of years ago. It’s made by Polaroid! Since installing a pound-shop (=dollar store) Bluetooth dongle on the PC, I can right-click any image and have it print out a minute or so later as a little sticker.

    The printer itself is very interesting technology. The ink, a wax I think, is built into the paper. How to print 3 different colours with a thermal printer? Basically they formulated the ink so that one colour needs long pulses of lower temperature before it melts, another colour needs shorter pulses of higher temperature. All this happens over the course of milliseconds of course, but the fact it works at all is amazing!

    Not sure if there’s 3 or 4 colours used, CMY and maybe the K.

    Also it comes with a rechargeable Lithium battery that’s only good for about 4 prints. I think it’s there to buffer what must be very high current demands on the PSU. Since it’s battery capacity is too small to be worth taking around with you, for only 4 prints, I think that must be it. The machine won’t print when the battery’s low, even with the PSU plugged into the mains.

    So yeah as technology… interesting, but was quickly orphaned by lack of a practical niche. Polaroid made a digital camera with the same printer attached to the back, but that didn’t sell well either. Nobody really needed a pocket-sized source of 3 or 4 small blurry pictures. On expensive packs of special ink-carrying paper!

  2. Ahh… Zink technology! So they’re using the same printer I have! Perhaps theirs is a later model, but the Zink is the stuff I mention, the embedded-wax selective-melt expensive-paper method.

    For their needs I’d sooner use something with better resolution, as well as better everything else. A small inkjet would be much better, they make all sorts of those for till-receipt printing etc.

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