This digital camera can print photos on any surface, but is it real?

The PrintBrush 4X6 is a camera that can print in color on virtually any surface. The printing process is done by sweeping the device over a flat surface:

The PrintBrush is developed by Alex Breton who spent 11 years and $10 million for the development of the device. Expected release date is early 2012.

I am really doubtful if this thing is real - remember the WVIL camera or the invisible camera? What do you guys think?

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  • Carcina

    It must be fake, what happens if you change the angle of your hand even 1 degree? or slow down even the tiniest amount during the sweep? If it was something you put on the surface, pushed a button and it rolled (under it’s own power) across the area while spraying ink onto it then maybe i’d be inclined to believe it, but this just seems too advanced to have been produced on just $10,000,000.

    though i desperately hope I’m wrong, this thing would be the new Polaroid camera, great for parties

  • rilakkuma

    Agree with Carcina, it’s fake for sure, there is no such kind of printing technology, no ink can print on any surface and material without IR drying system.

  • Carcina’s comments sound correct…. uh, but then again, there is the Sony camera that allows pan photography by hand, while just swinging the camera from one end of a panoramic spectrum to another. I have to say I would have called that impossible not long ago.

  • dobelir

    Where’s your imagination and thirst for invention, NR readers? “Fake. What happens if you change the angle of your hand?” Seriously, people. Something here took 11 years to develop. Guess what? New technology! Can you conceive of it?!

    It’s basically an ink jet printer with Philip-made laser Doppler sensors to guide which part of the image is laid down. “Any surface” is a bit of an exaggeration, but the print heads are made by Lexmark, which has a history of putting exotic print technology into production.

    Whether it will catch on is the question.

    • Carcina

      We can conceive of new technology, but this would be like NASA coming out and announcing they’ve developed Warp Drive technology, except this is coming from a company I’ve never heard of before, and was developed on a (comparatively) very tiny budget. So in summary, it’s not impossible, we’re just approaching it with caution for now. I’ll be the first to eat my words when it appears on shelves, and if it’s real then that’s an absolute boon for the company. The video above however, with the cuts in between each sweep of her hand, isn’t helping it seem any more realistic…

      • dobelir

        What is it about a handheld ink jet printer that works using Doppler sensors that makes it comparable to fictional faster-than-light space travel becoming reality? “If it’s real then that’s an absolute boon for the company.” Wow, so you can predict the future too….

        I predict it’s real, and will be a total flop.

        • Carcina

          It’s exactly like it, because current inkjet printers (unless you’re spending thousands of dollars) print slow, painful line-by-line images, whereas this thing you just swipe it backwards and forwards with your hand and your image appears on the paper. How does it account for changes in speed? the angle of your hand? the-less-than-perfect grain of paper (or whatever surface you choose to print on)?

          the NASA reference was to a decades jump forward in technology, not saying that this was an equivalent technology to light speed travel. I suggest you try some reading comprehension next time.

          Again, if they put a product on the shelves i will happily eat my words, and then go out and buy one.

          • Bogo

            isn’t warp drive the lightspeed tech from star trek?

            “How does it account for changes in speed? the angle of your hand?”

            the other guy said it, doppler laser sensors! try some reading comprehension yourself lol

          • Carcina

            Not sure if troll Bogo.

            It’s not the laser that matters, it’s the angle of the print head. “Doppler lasers” are used in high end computer mice these days, so putting one in something like this doesn’t mean anything. Now imagine if you were printing something on a regular inkjet printer and you rotated the paper even 1 degree when it was halfway through. do you see what I’m getting at here? You can splash around flashy names all you want (and this “technology” really is little more than a fancy optical mouse) but the fact is that calculating the change in ink colours on the fly based on the movement of the persons hand would require extremely advanced mathematics.

  • Daniel

    1. only think that could print that fast would be Dye Sublimation.
    2. Hand movements would have to be extremely acurate per pass
    3. A print head, inks, or thermal head cannot fit in there and also power it
    4. has been advertising this and a printer since 2008 and have yet to come out with an actual working model.

    • dobelir

      “Hand movements would have to be extremely acurate per pass”

      Imagination fail

  • Camaman

    So why would you want one?
    To draw photos on napkins in restaurants?

  • myles

    You can see by the ridiculous cuts in the demonstrating part of the movie that this is fake. If it wasn’t fake they would show it in one cut.

    At first the paper is white, then she makes a right sweep (the area where the image should be printed is hidden behind the thing). CUT! Now they replaced the white paper with one half printed. She makes a left sweep and uncovers the other part of the image that she was hiding before. Then she makes a right sweep again and CUT the paper is again exchanged and the final left sweep (where she just wipes over the completely printed image) reveals everything.

    Besides, I just don’t believe that there is technology yet to print this fast in such a small size.

    • wicks

      dead on

  • asdasd

    it is real, except you need to swipe it 57 times per A4 photo with the most advanced inkjet technology on the world today.

  • The possibilities are endless…But necessary? This better not be fake, it seems crazily good!

  • ilya

    fake and gay

  • Fayayayayayke. Nice idea though.

  • Ken Elliott

    I’ll agree with others that this appears to be fake, but something like this can be done.

    First, you need a rather wide (and fast) print head. You put wheels at each end, so it “knows” the speed and distance moved. This is somewhat like a small receipt printer, except you use a hand to move it rather than a motor. So far so good – until you have to move the device for the next pass and lose the machine-to-paper registration.

    To solve that problem, you need paper like the LiveScribe uses. It has nearly invisible micro marks that tell the device where it is on the paper. The device would align the image and print. So if she is 5 degrees off, the device would “rotate” the image to compensate and print on the unprinted area – not firing the nozzles that overlap into the already-printed area.

    So – yeah – it can be done. But you’d get banding and the quality would be poor. And you need the special paper. The only other way I see you could do this for each pass to lay down index dots for the next pass to read.

    I’ll bet the inventor has the basics worked out, and is seeking funding to finish development.

  • rilakkuma

    The main point is the ink, those big name such as HP, Epson, Staedtler are developing the ink that can print on any surface for their high-res flatbed printer for years, but no one success, only Staedtler did, but it still need pre-treatment on the print surface with special design print-head, the project was hold because of no one interested to make this too complicated print-head, 2 years ago, a Taiwan printer maker invented the ink called Magic Ink that solve the problems, no need pre-treatment, instant dry, can work with most common Epson Piezo head, but it has another technical problem of color density, they are still working on it.
    The other point is the print-head, according to the video, this machine can print the whole image without rescan the paper, look at your desktop printer, print-head need to move line by line, because more nozzles of the print-head, more expensive of the printer, give you an example, HP turbo-jet printer is the most advance printer built with hundreds of print-heads, it cost 1,000,000 USD, the same quality but less print-head printer cost 10,000 USD only.

    I believe we have to wait at least 15 years to see this kind of gadget out to the market.

  • c.d.embrey

    The graffito will love it.

  • Mark H

    It’s not outside the real of possibility. Here’s an industrial labeler that prints monochrome in one pass by hand: I don’t believe the operator needs to be moving at a constant speed, but for industrial printing, I guess it doesn’t matter that much.

    Yes, it doesn’t make multiple passes, however, it looks like it has encoder wheels on it (you could also do similar with optical mouse elements) to be able to tell how far it has moved.

    Using one optical mouse element, a handheld printer should be able to tell where it is relative to where it was first placed on the print surface. The second optical mouse sensor allows it to tell it’s X,Y position and angle, so that if there is any rotational misalignment it can correct for it. All it needs to do is compute where the print head is relative to the start point, figure which color should be under it and fire that color if it hasn’t already been painted.

    Bonus points for determining print head velocity and taking into account lag time between firing an ink jet and when it should hit the surface (to provide better print accuracy).

    You’d have problems if the printer was lifted from the paper, and that’s where the something like the Livescribe paper would come in handy (though, it’s a printer, why can’t it print its own livescribe pattern and recalibrate as soon as there’s another pass over the pattern?)

  • real or not, I remember when I had a hand scanner. What a nightmare, flatbeds were always going to win that fight. The same will go here, no matter what they do it will never beat a proper printer and thus why bother.

  • something 007 can use

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