How the Internet made the printer sexy again

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Tech is sexy. Or rather, it needs to be—if it wants to survive. Otherwise it’s basically just wires and arduino boards.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 3.04.54 PMAs time marches on, certain pieces of technology age. They get proverbial wrinkles and skin tags. The VCR. CDs. DVD players. Floppy disks. Digital cameras. These things were once so sleek and amazing, but they’ve become impractical, outdated, and replaceable.

Yet somehow, the printer is making an unlikely comeback, thanks in no small part to Kickstarter. The crowdfunding platform has become a shrine to the social Web’s renewed interest in the printer, bringing fresh ideas into the marketplace.

There’s LifePrint, for example, a Wi-Fi-enabled Instagram printer that lets you add borders, text, filters, and whatever else via the companion app; it’s roughly the size of a small stack of CDs. And both mPrinter and Choosatron break the obvious Instagram printing mold with their text-based, somewhat random prints. They’re fun, and strange, and best of all, new.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 9.17.10 AMThe shining example of innovative approaches to the printer is Instaprint. It’s a project from Breakfast, a tinkering collection that makes devices in response to what the social Web is doing. Instaprint is a hashtag-based printer; rental units are already out there, and Instaprint will reach consumer availability eventually.

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