Projecteo is a tiny Instagram projector. It uses wheels of 35mm slide film you make online and each one holds nine photos. Whether they're of your best friends, that holiday last summer or good old pictures of cats, just pop them into Projecteo, focus by twisting the lens barrel and sit back to enjoy your slideshow.
We've developed a process to get your Instagrams onto a single frame of 35mm Kodak film stock, which is cut into a circle and fits snugly inside a wheel. To change wheels, just gently pull it out and place the next one in the slot. You will be able to collect as many wheels as you like.
No pixels, no pixelation.
Like all projectors, Projecteo works best in the dark. We've had great looking images up to two and a half feet wide in a pitch black room. Unlike screens, slide film doesn't have pixels. This means you get beautiful looking images from a device the size of a matchbox.
The functioning prototype
We started off by 3D printing early prototypes of Projecteo. Sure, it was rough and stuck together with tape but it had enough charm to make us fall in love with the idea. We wanted to see how far we could take it.
Through an iterative process, we optimised the focal length of the lenses and added a focusing mechanism. We looked for the most powerful LEDs we could find, made the batteries replaceable and figured out the perfect ratio of images per wheel. We modified the outside edges to give Projecteo a five degree chamfer, to make it a bit nicer to hold. Oh and of course, we gave it cute little feet.
Though we had a prototype that did everything we wanted Projecteo to do, we were not ready for manufacturing. To take us through to that next step, we started working with Meso, a product development consultancy in Scotland. With their help and guidance, we made a production prototype.
We now had a model with parts designed to be injection moulded and all components custom made to fit right in the case. The surface finishes are high gloss on top with a textured matte grey bottom. We now also had a production prototype circuit board, the miniaturised version of the electronics we would be able to make at scale. As a final touch, we made the button a bright, fire truck red. Buttons you want to press are always red.
With a working production prototype, the beginnings of tooling and the first sample ready to be injection moulded, the hardware was coming together nicely. But we also had to figure out how you pick your images online. Luckily, we know a thing or two about that.
How do you pick your images?
Mint Digital is an agency and product development company. We collaborate with startups to large companies to make digital products. We also invent, build and run our own ventures like Foldable.me and Stickygram, giving us quite a bit of an experience in connecting to Instagram and turning digital pixels into physical stuff. We've also learned a lot about fulfilment and shipping to the world.
We've already been hard at work on the web component of Projecteo and will continue to polish the experience. For now, here's a sneak peek.
How do your pictures become slide film?
Our developers in the US use a similar technique to how Hollywood convert digital movies to 35mm film to project in cinemas. Your Instagrams are 'melted' on to a single frame of Kodak film, which is then processed in a similar way to how analogue films are developed, except in full colour.
From the development trays, we cut out individual sets using our custom circle cutter.
We then place each unique piece into one of our wheels.
Screws, not glue
Projecteo has been designed so you can disassemble it. This will not only make them easier to recycle but it means you can pull it open and see what's going on inside. There, you will find a super bright LED, capacitors and resistors, a switch, a decade counter and three batteries. Feel free to hack away! We can't wait to see your creations.
Where will it be made?
The components will be sourced and injection moulded in China. The factory we are working with is in Guangdong city and adheres to all labour condition laws. It's run by a nice gentleman called Henry, who looks after his staff well. Assembly of Projecteo and the development of images will happen in upstate New York, at a professional photography lab run by a lovely man called Neil. He will take care of printing your Instagrams and popping them into wheels.
When will you have Projecteo?
With successful funding, we will be able to make Projecteo between mid-December and mid-January. After manufacturing, units will be drop tested to the American standard and EU/FCC certified, which should take a maximum of two weeks. We'll then need to test our fulfilment process to make sure the Instagrams you choose on the site are matched with the physical wheels.
Once we have everything running smoothly, we should be able to roll out units to our first Kickstarter backers around late February. We will ship units in the order we receive the pledges, so back early to get Projecteo early!
Something special for Kickstarter…
The whole idea behind Projecteo came about when Ben found a Rollei film projector and a bunch of slides on a market stall. He fell in love with the beautiful and refined design of the projector and set about to find a way of getting his Instagrams onto slide film.
In homage, we'd like to make 1000 limited edition Projecteos in the Rollei P35 colours. We will only ever make these available on Kickstarter.
It's been a long and difficult but fascinating journey so far, and we can't wait to get Projecteo into your hands. However, there are still a few bumps along the way and we need your help to get us there.
With thanks to Meso Design.
Risks and challenges
There are inherent risks and challenges when developing any sort of product, be it physical or digital. When we mix the two, it gets slightly more complex. We've got a great team working on Projecteo with the right skills and experience to finish the job. Here is what we face in the upcoming months.
1. Financial backing
Without your support, we can't cover the cost of tooling and get a handle on the minimum order quantity we should commit to for the first batch. We need your help to get us there.
2. Refining the tool
We have made a pretty good start on this and produced some first samples. To get the tooling to the standard we require at volume will take more time, money and effort.
Though we have our circle cutter, we will need to install it in the photography studio and look to set up an efficient and accurate fulfilment procedure to produce wheels at scale for Projecteo.
This part of the project is well underway. Making digital products is something we have the expertise in, but there are still tricky problems to solve. We'll keep working at it until we get the experience of creating your wheel just right.
Once we reach our funding goal, we'll need to send Projecteos to all our backers. This will involve shipping from China, assembly in the US, developing each individual film and wheel, boxing them up and sending them across the world. We have experience in this from our previous ventures, but Projecteo is just that much more complex.
We are looking to trickle units out in increasing volumes to test all our processes as we go and iron out any kinks as early as we can. With your support, we can tackle anything that comes our way and get Projecteo out in to the world.
Thanks for checking out our project and have an awesome day.
Ben and the Mint Digital team.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)