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Wideblue hired to design new mass-market instant camera

A SCOTTISH company is growing its workforce by 50% after being hired to design a camera which it is hoped will revive the prevalence of instant photography around the world.

Wideblue has been commissioned by Dutch firm Impossible, which bought Polaroid's film manufacturing business in 2008, to work on products which are pencilled in to launch early next year.

Impossible said it was aiming the cameras at the mass consumer market with one model expected to be available in the first quarter of 2015 and a second later in that year.

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It pointed out around 300 million cameras it makes film for at its Enschede factory are still in use around the world.

But some of those models are getting close to 50 years old while even the most recent have been in circulation for around a decade.

Creed O'Hanlon, chief executive of Impossible, said: "We needed to look around and see what our film will be shot on in the future.

"Clearly we needed to create and design a camera.

"The more we asked around there was really only one place in the world that could provide the very particular expertise for making a mechanical analogue camera and that was Wideblue."

Glasgow-based Wideblue, formed following a management buy-out from Polaroid's European Design Centre eight years ago, is now looking to add five further product design engineers to its existing team of 10.

Grant King, design and development director, said: "We are looking for people who can do a bit of everything and getting that breadth of skills can be quite difficult as engineers tend to become specialists."

However, Mr King hopes to have the new people in places as soon as he can "rustle them up".

He also indicated the cameras being developed are likely to have some interactivity with smartphones and said: "They are not just looking for a replacement Polaroid. They want their own spin on it so it is an Impossible camera."

Mr O'Hanlon acknowledged a need for the cameras to reflect modern photography trends.

He said: "We need to build in a way that smartphones have a role in the photographic process of these new instant cameras.

"We think that is what distinguishes the cameras we are making with Wideblue from the Polaroid cameras from the past.

"It could be changing the aperture, flash magnification or a different view finder which can be served from a thing most of us have in our pocket."

It is understood both firms are interested in further collaboration beyond the initial product pipeline.

Mr King said: "We would love to work with [Impossible] over the long term. They want a trusted partner who can deliver products for them and they see that as an investment for the long term."

Mr O'Hanlon said: "This company in Glasgow is doing some extraordinary things redefining what an instant camera is and what instant photography will be.

"What Grant and his team are doing is creating a device that will continue to make instant photography relevant even to the generation that is used to the speed and convenience of the smartphone."

Impossible has previously released the Instant Lab product, which costs £219, which lets users print an instant picture from their iPhone. It sells around one million instant films each year.

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