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Meet OTTO - The Hackable GIF Camera's video poster

A customizable digital camera powered by Raspberry Pi. See your unique vision through pictures, videos, GIFs + more! Read more

Oakland, CA Design
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pledged of $60,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on June 14, 2014.

A customizable digital camera powered by Raspberry Pi. See your unique vision through pictures, videos, GIFs + more!

Oakland, CA Design
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About this project

Our Kickstarter campaign has ended, but you can still order your own OTTO at


OTTO is a real camera that does all the things your phone camera does, all the things you wish your other cameras could do, and tons of things you never even expected.

OTTO is also a tiny, portable linux computer! 

We built OTTO to show how much you can do with a digital camera, when you’re invited to play with how it works. Not just by adding filters or post-processing, but by actually being able to change how the camera behaves!

As featured in:

OTTO at Maker Faire (winner of Best in Class and Editors Choice)

How OTTO works

OTTO lets YOU decide how it takes pictures. Besides being the only camera that makes animated GIFs, OTTO’s an image making machine that can transform into hundreds of different cameras with a quick tap. GIFs, time lapses, impromptu photo booths, or something brand new, OTTO is ready for adventure!

OTTO lets you take photos with a real camera, while still being able to easily share them to your favorite people. Photos taken with OTTO are viewed and shared from your smartphone.

Choose new MODES for OTTO from a huge library of options, each of which offers a totally new way to make images!

Whats a Mode? 

MODES are what makes OTTO different from every other camera. Modes are like tiny apps that define how OTTO makes pictures. In other words: modes change what happens when you press OTTO's shutter button or turn it's built-in crank.

OTTO ships with a library of built-in modes to do fun things like shoot animated GIFs, or set up an impromptu photo booth. Using your smartphone, you can change between any of these built-in picture-taking modes, or pick user-created modes from the in-app MODE GALLERY.

What YOU can do with OTTO

Because you can change OTTO's software, you can do hundreds of cool and unique things with your OTTO!  Below are just a couple examples of what OTTO does:

  • Make GIFs!

OTTO has a rotating crank that pops up and folds out from its top. Crank to make a GIF. When you're done, rewind the crank one turn and your GIF is done. OTTO automatically shares your brand new GIF with your phone, so you have it where you need it. Making GIFs has never been easier!

But of course OTTO is more than just GIFs. OTTO is the full power of a tiny computer, right in your camera, meaning YOU can create modes for hundreds of unique image, and video styles!

  • Place a geolocated MAP right into your travel snapshots
  • Snap Magic Eye® style STEREOGRAMS in real time
  • Drop "Deal with it" SHADES on your friends via facial tracking
  • See the world through DELAUNAY MESH triangulations
  • Capture good times with PHOTOBOOTH mode
  • Bend time with dynamic TIMELAPSES

Want OTTO to do even more?

We do too! OTTO is designed for experimentation. 

We built OTTO because we wanted to create new ways to play with digital cameras. Making GIFs on the fly, talking to sensors, and uploading photos to your favorite social site are all things that any camera could do, if only it “knew” how -- so we created OTTO, the camera you can teach new tricks!

Every part of OTTO is made so YOU can tweak, extend, and hack it. 

Tweaking OTTO

OTTO’s modes have tons of detailed settings that you can adjust from inside the smartphone app. Without any special skills, YOU can completely change how OTTO’s modes react to your input. Once you’ve made your tweaks, your settings are automatically sync’d to OTTO. Then you can put your phone away, go outside, and enjoy taking photos that are really YOURS!


OTTO’s customization isn’t limited to software. By attaching an Arduino-powered FlashyFlash to the USB port hidden under the OTTO logo plug, you can easily add electronics to completely change how OTTO works.

FlashyFlashes are simple plug-and-play circuit boards with a paired OTTO mode to let you take unique and amazing photos. High-five-triggered camera? Easy. GIFs that know how loud that concert was? No problem. Robot camera vision tool? You bet. By adding an Arduino to your OTTO, the possibilities are endless, and easy to try.


A quick Arduino sketch lets the FlashyFlash use the capacitance of human touch to capture a photo the moment you make HIGHFIVE contact. 

High Five Cam: the setup... and the result
High Five Cam: the setup... and the result

Using a piezo mic attached to the FlashyFlash, COLOR SAT reveals the sound of the scene where a photo is captured.  The saturation of each frame of the created GIF is changed to match how loud it was when the frame was captured. 

Color Sat: the setup... and the result
Color Sat: the setup... and the result


When even bolt-on hardware won’t get you where you want to go, OTTO is ready for adventure. Using the OTTO SDK, you can modify every bit of OTTO’s software. Recompile the kernel, load it up with additional Linux packages, or just peek under the hood and see how it all works.

OTTO’s hardware is similarly built to be modified and explored by the adventurous, with full documentation and Eagle files available. OTTO is the only camera built from the ground up with hackability in mind!


OTTO is powered by Raspberry Pi, the same flexible, low-cost computing platform we used to prototype our first cameras. We built our OTTO prototypes using the Raspberry Pi because it was the easiest way to test our ideas out without the need for proprietary tools or spooky non-disclosure agreements. Turns out, when trying new things in software and hardware, joining a community that’s already 2.5 million strong is a great thing! 

With plenty of documentation and active forums, we are extremely proud to say that now Raspberry Pi hackers can hack on something they can carry everywhere.

With the help and encouragement of our friends at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we are excited to announce that OTTO is the first product to be powered by the brand new Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a thumb-sized system on module identical to the Raspberry Pi Model B, but in a much smaller package meant to be embedded in products.

Designing OTTO

The OTTO prototype family
The OTTO prototype family
 OTTO was built because we love traditional cameras -- the kind people half-jokingly refer to as “real” cameras -- Leicas, Rolleiflex, Voigtlander, and especially the humble Holga. We love the feeling of holding an old rangefinder camera and shooting in the middle of a crowded street or way out on a desolate trail. The way those cameras fit in your hand, their sturdy feel and carryable size all lead to an unyielding urge to get out there, explore, and shoot more photos! 

At the end of the day it’s really that feeling we love more than any particular camera, so we designed OTTO to be the camera that you want to grab and shoot with. We hope you’ll love it as much as we do.


 OTTO is powered by the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, with a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC. That’s a 700MHz ARM 11 core, with dual core video co-processor and 1080p30 native H.264 hardware encode/decode, advanced Image Sensor Pipeline, 4GB on onboard flash memory, USB 2.0, and lots of other goodies. 

Image capture is done though an f/2.0 35mm equivalent optical glass lens onto an Omnivision OV5647 5 megapixel ¼” 1.4µm backside illuminated pixel CMOS sensor, capable of images up to 2592x1944px, HD video up to 1080p30 / 720p60, and VGA 640x480 at 90 frames per second! We think it’s quite a little powerhouse.


As a camera, THIS good:

5am Dave, no filter :)
5am Dave, no filter :)

… and as a prototyping platform, OTTO is as good as the thousands of amazing projects folks have already built with Raspberry Pi.  With the added benefit that we've done all the boring stuff for you.  Now you can take your projects anywhere.  

OTTO will never compete with a DSLR in terms of megapixels but we think OTTO has a lot more fun ;)

We think the future of photography isn't just greater fidelity, but greater flexibility. 

Reward Levels

$5: Help make OTTO a reality!

We have been committed full-time to making OTTO since last November, but we just plain can’t do it without your help! Every single dollar we raise on Kickstarter helps a LOT, and any pledge you can make helps us go farther! Are YOU as excited to see what people do with OTTO as we are? Help us make it happen!

$25: 1 FlashyFlash Bare Prototyping Board

The FlashyFlash is a 3” round prototyping board with a mechanical mounting tab styled like a vintage bulb flash. Meant to break out pins from an Arduino Pro Micro and let you quickly solder together circuits to extend what you can do with your OTTO camera, you can also just use FlashyFlash as a nice round prototyping board for a freestanding Arduino project. Requires soldering skills.

**Does not include Arduino!**

$30: Hand-printed OTTO Bag

A 100% cotton tote bag hand-printed by us with our OTTO logo and a picture of OTTO. Be the coolest kid in the grocery line! :D

$50: 1 Flashy Flash with Arduino-compatible board

The 3" FlashyFlash ready to be wired up and used to turn your OTTO into a high-five camera, sound saturation camera, robot-driving camera, or anything else you can dream up! Includes:

+ Camera Shoe Mount

+ Yellow PC-SYNC style micro USB cord

+ Arduino-compatible board mounted in sockets

*Requires Soldering Skills!*

$60: 1 B.O.B. Pi Shield with LiPo Battery

If you’re wondering how we were able to make a reliable, rechargeable, self-powered camera based on the Raspberry Pi, here’s our secret weapon! The B.O.B. (Battery On Board) Shield for Raspberry Pi is everything you need to turn your Raspberry Pi model A or B into a real mobile device! Includes:

+ 2A 5V DC-DC Boost Power Supply

+ 2700mAH 3.6V LiPo Battery

+ 500mA LiPo Charger

+ Soft Power (Safe Shutdown) Circuit

+ Prototyping area & Linear GPIO, SPI, and I2C breakouts

**Does not include Raspberry Pi**


The ODK is an early prototype for OTTO. A laser cut acrylic case, side-mounted crank handle, 96x96 color OLED screen, B.O.B. Pi Power Shield, and all the little hardware necessary to assemble a DIY portable Raspberry Pi project. Includes:

+ Laser-cut acrylic body KIT including assembly hardware

+ Assembled B.O.B. SHIELD

+ Plug-in modules for a crank arm, shutter button, and power button

+ 96x96 color OLED module

+ 2700mAH 3.6v LiPo Battery

**Does NOT include Raspberry Pi or Camera Board**

$149: Early Bird OTTO

VERY Limited special “Early Bird” pricing for our first backers. These cameras will be the first to ship out, and as special THANKS for getting our campaign moving, we’ve lowered the price of OTTO for the first fifty! 

Choice of Silver/Black or Black/Blue OTTO.

$199: 1 OTTO Hackable Camera

 FULLY ASSEMBLED CAMERA, READY TO USE! OTTO does it all. Hackable, powerful, playful, and (dare we say) adorable, OTTO is the first digital camera ever to be designed for user modification. OTTO shoots animated GIFs, still images, videos, and much much more! Powered by Raspberry Pi and encased in durable anodized aluminum, OTTO is simply the best way to make digital photography fun again. Includes Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

*Special Kickstarter-Only Pricing!* 

Choice of Silver/Black or Black/Blue OTTO.

$249: 1 OTTO + 1 Assembled FlashyFlash

ALL THE THINGS! Get a fully-assembled OTTO camera, AND a FlashyFlash with an onboard Arduino, so you’re just minutes away from building any camera project you’ve been dreaming up!

*Special Kickstarter-Only Pricing!* 

Choice of Silver/Black or Black/Blue OTTO.


If you have a camera project, art installation, or event that you you want to see through the lens of a custom-built OTTO mode, we’ll work with you to make your vision a reality. Plus you get the whole kit and kaboodle -- a signature edition OTTO in a color of your choice, and a FlashyFlash pre-assembled with the circuitry necessary to realize your custom mode!

Manufacturing OTTO

We've built dozens of prototypes over the last five months, and worked closely with manufacturing engineers in Shenzhen, China to figure out how to produce lots of OTTOs. We have a tested pipeline for low-volume production, and are continually improving our designs and software to make volume production and quality control as smooth as possible.



The OTTO Team

Thomas Deckert, Dave Rauchwerk, and Gustavo Huber are three friends in Oakland, CA who like making electronics, art, and designer-y urban interventions of many types. We took the early prototype GIF cameras to China after being selected for the 111-day HAXLR8R hardware accelerator program. While abroad, a lunchbox-sized crank powered GIF camera prototype was developed into the camera you see here! OTTO! :D

Our backgrounds range from Product Design and Mechanical Engineering to Software Development and Electronics, with a good bit of manufacturing experience thrown in too. We are very excited to show everyone just how much fun OTTO is!


Our Investors & Mentors: 


Sean O’Sullivan 

Cyril Ebersweiler 

Benjamin Joffe 

Our Hacker Friends & Supporters: 

The Raspberry Pi Foundation

Eben Upton

Ian Lesnet @ Dangerous Prototypes 

Jin Lin 


Bunnie Huang 

Gray Area Foundation for the Arts 

Shelly Huber

Margaret Walker

Robert Huber

Ron Huber

Jeff Brown 

Ryan Alexander 

Gabriel Dunne 

Aaron Koblin 

Sebastien Roux 

Brownell Chalstrom

Richard Reininger

Albert Swantner

Peter Wang 



Risks and challenges

Making stuff is a lot harder than thinking it up. There are literally thousands of tiny decisions left to be made in order to get OTTO into your hands. We are actively refining OTTO at every opportunity, and know from experience that some of these refinements will come during manufacturing. The risks inherent in volume manufacturing are real, and we take every precaution to prepare for and actively address them. With the support of our manufacturing and distribution partners we are well equipped for the challenges ahead. ¡VIVA OTTO!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • OTTO has 4GB of flash memory built in, and automatically synchronizes onboard photos to its companion app when a connection is available.

    Last updated:
  • YES! OTTO shoots high quality still images up to 2592 x 1944 pixel size, 720 and 1080p HD video, and even 90fps slow-motion video! Thanks to a real glass lens and a wide f/2.0 aperture, the images that come off of OTTO are crisp and colorful!

    GIF is just one of many modes built into OTTO, and is just there to help get you started experimenting!

    Last updated:
  • OTTO comes configured to talk to other devices via USB and WIFI.

    When running the OTTO app, your phone will automatically connect to OTTO's hosted WIFI network. For longer-term installations, you can also set OTTO up to connect to an existing network, and automatically post or update images.

    Remember that since OTTO is completely hackable, you can always attach adapters like USB ethernet, or USB bluetooth modules in order to easily add more ways to talk to OTTO!

    Last updated:

    We are building a full featured mobile web UI which lets you do all the same things from an Android phone, tablet, or laptop that you can do in the native iOS OTTO app.

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    37 backers

    Help us make OTTO a reality! Thanks for your support!

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    4 backers

    1 FlashyFlash Bare Prototyping Board WITHOUT Arduino or shoe mount.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    15 backers Limited (32 left of 47)

    Hand-printed OTTO cotton tote bag.

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    7 backers

    1 Flashy Flash with Arduino-compatible board, ready to build!

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    0 backers

    1 Battery On Board "B.O.B." Pi Shield
    Complete LiPo power solution for Raspberry Pi projects. Includes 2700mAH 3.6V LiPo battery.
    **Raspberry Pi NOT included**

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $99 or more

    4 backers

    1 ODK OTTO Developer Kit: DIY Portable Camera and Computer Vision Prototyping Kit.
    Includes acrylic enclosure, B.O.B. shield with battery, and 96x96 color OLED.
    **Raspberry Pi and Camera Board NOT included**

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
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    50 backers All gone!

    ***Early Bird*** OTTO
    Be one of the first backers and get OTTO for bottom dollar.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    142 backers Limited (858 left of 1000)

    1 OTTO Camera - Includes Raspberry Pi Computer Module

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    106 backers

    1 OTTO Camera + 1 Assembled FlashyFlash

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $5,000 or more

    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    We'll work with you to build a CUSTOM camera mode for OTTO to be featured in our app. Includes 1 OTTO and Assembled FlashyFlash.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)