Skip to navigationSkip to content

Google just got a patent for a modern Polaroid

AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Making a comeback?
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

It looks like it’s not just hipsters and Taylor Swift who are getting back into instant photos. Google was awarded a patent today (Jan. 20) for a handheld digital camera that can print out photos. Based on the drawings submitted to the US Patent Office, Google seems to have been exploring the possibility of making a digital version of the instant cameras that were so popular for sharing photos before apps like Instagram copied their style for our smartphones.

US Patent and Trademark Office
Like the unholy child of a camcorder and a Polaroid.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Google will move ahead with building any sort of modern Polaroid, it’s an interesting move for the company, seeing as it’s not entirely clear if there’s much of a market for this type of product. Polaroid itself, since resurfacing from bankruptcy, has struggled for relevancy. Its most recent product, the Socialmatic, is a digital camera—ironically shaped like Instagram’s app icon—that can also instant print photos.

US Patent and Trade Office
Google’s camera can also print postcards.

Google’s proposed camera would also let users choose when to print their photos—they wouldn’t have to do so right after the image was taken, as the original Polaroid cameras required. Google’s camera seems to be able to print on two sides as well. The patent suggests the camera could print a postcard layout on the reverse of a photo, including prepaid postage stamps so that users could mail their holiday snaps and smug “Wish you were here” greetings moments after taking their photos.

Google has not responded to a request from Quartz for a comment on the patent.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.