The “Digitally Analog Polaroid” runs ChatGPT code on a Raspberry Pi
With all of the DIY digital cameras coming out these days, it’s starting to get difficult to produce something that’s a bit different and unique. This one, though, from Art Director Nico Tangara, is pretty interesting and unique. It’s called the Digitally Analog Polaroid camera, and it’s built around a Raspberry Pi with the Raspberry Pi Camera, an e-ink display with a 3D printed enclosure.
It’s quite compact, and its design kind of reminds me of the old days with the Gameboy Camera. But despite looking as retro as it can while still living in a plastic housing (albeit 3D printed), it runs on code generated by ultra-modern tech. Its code was created using ChatGPT.
While Nico doesn’t appear to have released the code publicly, he does walk us through the process of achieving his goal. The basic components of the camera are very simple. The brains of the whole thing is a Raspberry Pi. And it doesn’t even need the latest and greatest Raspberry Pi, either. Nico’s runs on the Raspberry Pi 2 from 2015. Connected to this, we have a Raspberry Pi Camera Module and an e-ink display.
The camera, too, doesn’t need to be particularly modern or high-resolution, either. Something like the 64-megapixel Arducam would be an overkill waste of money given that e-ink displays are fairly limited in what they can display. E-ink displays, by their very nature, are quite low-resolution displays. But they’re quite inexpensive now and very reliable. They’re not the fastest displays out there, though, so don’t expect to shoot video with this thing.
To develop the code, Nico first had to work out his process. Breaking things down into its most basic chunks, this is what he came up with.
- When a button is pressed, trigger a script
- The script will give a command to the camera module to shoot a photo
- The photo will be processed, with effects applied and saved to the Pi
- The final image will be sent to the e-ink display
It’s a very simple process. Nico used ChatGPT to generate the code for each of the different parts of the process. He then just had to tie them all together. After a bunch of testing and getting friends to try it out, it was time to design a more permanent enclosure that didn’t involve sticking things together with tape. He designed his case in the open-source 3D modelling software Blender. It was then 3D printed and had the components fitted into it.
While the final result doesn’t quite look like a finished retail product – and it doesn’t spit out paper prints like a real Polaroid camera – it certainly seems to have achieved Nico’s goals.
Using ChatGPT to generate code is still a bit of a novel idea. As a new tech, it’s still fairly limited and specific, but it’s a great way for people who don’t know how to code to be able to create the tools (and toys) they want to make. But you do have to be quite specific in your needs and there will definitely be some troubleshooting to be done!
Have you used ChatGPT for any of your photography projects yet?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.