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Instant Lab brings go-go days of Polaroid to the iPhone

The Impossible Instant Lab is like Geppetto for iPhone photos. It turns your digital snaps into real-life instant photographs.

Impossible Instant Lab
Before Instagram, there was real instant film. Impossible Project

Polaroid cameras used to be the coolest things. You'd huddle around a little square of weird photographic paper, waiting for the image to magically appear out of nothing. You just don't get the same thrill from capturing a photo on your smartphone. Until now.

I'm at the Kickstarter page for the Impossible Instant Lab, watching the pledge numbers rise in real time. Backers are jumping in on the $149 early-bird price (regularly a $229 pledge) for a device that turns photos from an iPhone into Polaroid pictures.

The Impossible Instant Lab features a telescoping top. You select a picture using a special app, place the iPhone at the top, open the shutter, wait for the signal, and close the shutter again. Push a button and your photo pops out to develop.

The portable lab comes from the Impossible Project, a group of instant-film devotees who have kept physical film production alive against large odds. The group sells film starting at $19.49 for an eight-pack.

The Impossible Instant Lab is undeniably cool, though the ongoing cost for the film could make some buyers hesitate. The rapidly rising pledge numbers on launch day bode well for this project reaching its $250,000 goal.