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Kickstarter Project Prynt Blends Classic Photography With Augmented Reality

The mobile printer speaks to both the positives and downsides of Kickstarter-funded hardware projects.


Prynt, a portable printer that began shipping in the past week, marries the quaintness of a traditional photo print with the modern twist of augmented reality and captures both the best and the worst aspects of Kickstarter. Yes, it’s a cool niche product; no, it didn’t ship when it was supposed to.

The pint-size printer connects to an iPhone using the lightning port (or a Samsung Galaxy using micro-USB) and spits out a print about 30 seconds later. That’s where augmented reality comes in. Point the phone back at a Prynt photo using the company’s app and you can view a six-second video that was recorded alongside the printed image.

Prynt didn’t invent the technology that lets photos print without ink. The company, as Polaroid does with its mobile printer, uses special paper from a company called Zink (for zero ink) that has the crystals needed for color built into the paper. It’s the augmented reality part that Prynt adds in.

Prynt’s journey to market captures the good and the bad of Kickstarter. On the positive, you have a hardware project that a big company would probably not have made, with early backers getting it at a discount for having taken the gamble.

But like many hardware efforts on Kickstarter, the project has taken longer than planned; backers were originally told to expect shipments over the summer. And while the core features are there, Prynt can’t do some of the things one might expect, like save images and videos back to the iPhone or share them via social networking.

That said, Prynt is getting all 12,000 preordered units out to customers by Christmas, says Prynt CEO Clément Perrot. Plenty of other projects have seen months of delays or not shipped at all. The crowdfunding platform recently retained a journalist to look into what happened with Torquing Group, which raised $3.4 million but shut down before shipping any of the drones it had promised.

For Prynt, the big question now is whether it can parlay its product into a sustainable business. And a large part of that depends on whether people find the printer to be more than just a novelty.

And while the photo links to six-second video for now, it could link to almost anything, Perrot says — a Spotify playlist, a movie or an album of photos.

“We see those pictures as the cover of a book,” Perrot said.

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