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This Genius Built a Camera That Prints Actual GIFs

The GIF may be 20 years older than the iPhone, but it's no secret that pop culture at large remains obsessed with the simple moving-picture format. We're so obsessed, in fact, that one man has decided to turn GIFs into the ultimate nostalgia play, with a Polaroid-style camera that shoots and "develops" GIFs instantly.

The "Instagif," a DIY project created by Abhishek Singh appears to be the first camera of its kind -- a machine that allows users to take short moving images of subjects and crank them out onto a cartridge with a playable screen on it. Just like a Polaroid, but in motion. It runs off of some custom-designed hardware made with a 3D printer and two small Raspberry Pi computers that create "an ad-hoc WiFi network" between each other once the camera is booted up. That allows one Raspberry Pi (the camera) to communicate with the other Raspberry Pi (the cartridge) and "print" the GIF.

After you click the camera to take, say, a selfie, the rigid cartridge will pop out of a slot in front and if you hold up the screen, the GIF slowly develops -- just like a Polaroid would -- and comes into focus.

It's pretty fascinating, even if building one yourself looks very, very complicated. Still, if you feel inclined to give yourself a project and build one of these, you can. Singh's posted full instructions for how to build this sucker on Imgur. As he put it in a YouTube video touting the invention: "I built this entirely from scratch, released all the code, and all the design files." Now you can do the same.

Check out more of Singh's work at his GIF-laden website Shek.it.

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Eric Vilas-Boas is a writer at Thrillist and runs the animation website The Dot and Line. Follow him on Twitter: @e_vb_