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New Disposable Digital Cameras with LCDs 485

Posted by michael
from the cuecat dept.
del_ctrl_alt writes "Pure Digital Technologies are set to introduce the world's first ever disposable digital camera [ed. note: see below], retailing in the USA for $19.99. Ritz, CVS, Disney World and Longs Drugs are all going to stock the 2-megapixel camera, which somewhat amazingly has a color preview screen and allows you to delete images before you take it to the store for processing (where you will receive a free picture CD along with your prints)." It's not the first disposable digital camera, which was hacked shortly afterwards, but these include a LCD display (they're made by the same company which made the first ones). Have fun!
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New Disposable Digital Cameras with LCDs

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  • Processing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:54PM (#10014131)
    Film processing is expected to retail at $280 per camera.
  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:55PM (#10014141)
    How long before "disposable" becomes "free" with a simple hardware/software hack?
    • Do you know how to count in negative numbers?

      Heck, do you know how to click the links in the article? In fact, the very last word?
    • If it's like the last disposable digital, about 3 weeks.
    • Well, the article claims "no wires" but I wonder just how the shop gets the pictures off the camera? Perhaps some hidden memory card inside the camera waiting to be hacked or even a USB interface behind a plug? Certainly I think this thing could be hackable.
      • by rost0031 (805973) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:02PM (#10014266)
        It's an interface similar to the old Palm III cradles. It's hidden behind a removable plastic tab on the side. For my hack, I used a piece of a Centronics cable connector attached to a USB cable. Google for "dakota camera hack" and you will find the details.
      • Take a look at some of the images [maushammer.com]. You can see an edge connector along one side of the PCB. Odds are this is there data is pulled from. Since they (the hackers) claim to have been able to update the firmware, I would assume that they are close to being able to pull data off as well.
      • by nacturation (646836) <[nacturation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:11PM (#10014404) Journal
        An interesting thought: is the memory actually wiped after it gets recycled from the last person, or do they simply reset the index? If they don't wipe it fully, it may be possible to undelete the files and recover the last user's pictures from the device.
        • by morcheeba (260908) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10014842) Journal
          That was the reason for my original hack of the old camera. I never got an answer, because I never found a recycled camera. One Ritz employee said that they had a box of all of these cameras that they had ever developed (5-6) sitting around and they hadn't sent them back for reprocessing. The scary thing is that the processing machine doesn't seem to clear the pictures* -- it must be done at the reprocessing place. A good reason for that is the accidental erasure of the pictures -- you don't want to give the clerk the ability to accidently erase the camera before getting the pictures.

          The old camera wasn't really recycleable. The case was painted, so any scratches would show. Changing the body would require removal of about a dozen screws (of a few different sizes), so it's impractical to do.

          The new camera design is held together with three easy screws and it's easy to replace the case. The body is not painted, so scratches will be hidden. I'm excited to find out if we'll actually see recycled cameras.

          (* note: that's heresay and I can't guarantee it)
    • by Gulik (179693) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:12PM (#10014417)
      How long before "disposable" becomes "free" with a simple hardware/software hack?

      It seems to me (and this is admittedly off the top of my head, and I apologize if it can be trivially proven to be stupid) that, if you set the camera up so the camera encrypted the JPEG in hardware before it landed on the memory card using a public key, you'd need a private key to get to the JPEG, and the private key would only be on the developing station.

      So, sure, someone could hack the developing station, but those are going to be a lot harder to lay hands on than the cameras are. And if the only thing you can ever get from the camera is the public key, and you can't work around the hardware to intercept the image data before encryption, I would think you're pretty well stuck.
      • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:07PM (#10015736) Journal
        Actually, you hacking the camera is worked into their profit model. Adding in a dedicated encryption IC drives up the price. It's cheaper to just let .003% of the consumer targets hack the thing. For them it's a win/win.

        If you hack the thing, you still have to buy, so they're going to make a profit off of you. Not as much as the sheeple who'll just drop the thing in the slot, but a bucks a buck.

        • by Smidge204 (605297) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:47PM (#10016195) Journal
          If you hack the thing, you still have to buy, so they're going to make a profit off of you. Not as much as the sheeple who'll just drop the thing in the slot, but a bucks a buck.

          So how much does it cost to produce the camera if they still make an acceptable profit selling them for $20?

          Their business model relies on people returning the cameras for recycling. I'm sure they accounted for a loss of devices over time (mostly people losing/breaking them through general clumsiness rather than hacking), but overall they are hoping a camera will get recyled 10 times or more so they can make their money back on the hardware plus profit.
          =Smidge=
  • cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeShmoe950 (605274) <CrazyNorman@gmail.com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:56PM (#10014158) Homepage
    I really hope it is hackable. I mean, a 2 megapixel digital camera with LCD for $19.99 would be a pretty good deal, even if it takes a day or two, and even 1 or two broken cameras first. I hope someone comes up with a hack!
    • by Trigun (685027) <evil@evilempire . a th.cx> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:03PM (#10014277)
      Forget the 2megapixel camera, I want cheap LCD's.
      Hopefully the hardware gurus recycle all of the parts, so we can have a webcam, a display, and a memory stick, all for the low low price of $20.00
    • Re:cool (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) *
      I really hope it is hackable. I mean, a 2 megapixel digital camera with LCD for $19.99 would be a pretty good deal, even if it takes a day or two, and even 1 or two broken cameras first. I hope someone comes up with a hack!

      Perfect also as a low cost camera for attaching to radio controlled plains and kites. All that's required is figuring how to trigger the exposures.

      I wonder if the guts are dipped in epoxy to discourage what happened to the CueCat [air-soldier.com], i.e. they sell/give out several thousand but only half

    • Re:cool....nah (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Traa (158207) *
      It is not anywhere near as good a deal as you might think. The 2 megapixel sensor (CMOS I bet, from either Micron, Omnivision or the likes) are going to be flooding the market at about $5~$8 in bulk this year. This technology is booming and going straight for commodity prices. The lens technology is desperatly trying to catch up but is still lacking. Trust me that the lens on this thing is tiny and crappy. Good enough for a quicky vacation pic, but not good enough to replace a regular (sub)$300 digital came
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Espectr0 (577637)
    This is even a worse idea than the "2 day dvd lasting" media.
    Why do this?
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by molafson (716807) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:00PM (#10014236)
      N.B. The cameras aren't "disposable" in the sense that you throw them away. The company refurbishes them 5-8 times and puts them back on the market.
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by laigle (614390)
        Without the need to take the thing apart to get the film and with fewer moving parts, these should actually get a many more re-use cycles than the film versions. So I'm betting the profit margins they're looking at are a lot better even with a higher camera cost. The big problem will be if the things are hackable, which means they'll be pulling the DMCA out like mad.

        Of course, at 2 Mp I'm thinking you'd get better pictures off the cheaper film version anyways.
    • Considering that this is "version 2," I assume that it's because they made a lot of money off the first one.
    • by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:02PM (#10014267) Homepage Journal
      huh? why exactly is it a _bad_ idea, if they just can make it profitable?

      ever used crappy disposable cameras? the worst thing about them is that a lot of the pictures you take turn out as total crap. a preview screen on them would be a great improvement.

      it's a replacement for MEGACRAPPYSHIT disposable cameras, and a lot of folk visiting disneyworld or whatever would like one of these. it's cheap for them(customers), so they don't have to have even any stress about if it breaks in the rides or if they lose it and yet they can take better pictures than with a normal disposable one.

      20$ for a rent of a 2mpix camera and service to get the pics on a cd isn't _that_ bad at amusementparks & etc..
      • by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:27PM (#10014615) Journal
        It'll cost 20 bucks at the local Rite Aid, but I can guarantee you that once past the gates of Disney, it'll cost at least 40 or 50. Or any other amusement park, for that matter. Enough that it'd negate any economy. But, you forgot your own camera, so you pay.

        Actually, I envision the park security no longer allowing you to bring your own camera. You know, to improve safety and give you a more enjoyable experience.

        Hey, a bottle of water costs 3 bucks in there.
  • Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnhennessy (94737) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:56PM (#10014170)

    Finally my point is proven - this is what happens when the marketing department controls projects !!
  • by mblase (200735) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:57PM (#10014179)
    For exactly which economic bracket is $20 considered "disposable"? I consider myself middle-class, and I'm not going to throw anything away unless it cost under $8, if I can help it.
    • I think their notion is that you get more than $8 of value out of this thing. Because it's digital with preview/delete, you can nix bad pictures before going to get them developed, something you cannot do with a disposable film camera.

      In other words, they're banking that a $20 disposable digital is worth about two $10 disposable film cameras, or more.
    • What I want to know is how they can sell these things at $20 a piece? LCD screens have come down in price *some*, but they can't be THAT cheap! Are these actually disposable, or is it really just a tricky recycling maneuver?
      • A recycling maneuver. Ritz/whoever keeps the camera, downloads your pics, prints your prints and burns your CD, then resells the camera to someone else.

        I wonder if they *really* wipe the memory, or just delete/dealloc the memory. It'd be very mildly entertaining to see if you could wait a bit and find someone else's pics in the memory.

        Of course, the only folks buying these right away (I'd guess) are /.ers who will soon hack it for personal reuse.

        /me runs to ritz

        • I wonder if they *really* wipe the memory, or just delete/dealloc the memory. It'd be very mildly entertaining to see if you could wait a bit and find someone else's pics in the memory.

          I can see it now. "This is Marge waving with her left hand. This is Marge waving with her right hand. And for the big finally, this is Marge waving with BOTH hands!!!"

          Most people's pictures are terminally boring. Trust me. ;-)
    • The economic bracket that goes to Disney World, for one. But really- how much does the regular disposable camera end up costing you? And how many of the shots do you waste because there's no preview/delete?
    • by jdreed1024 (443938) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:06PM (#10014328)
      For exactly which economic bracket is $20 considered "disposable"? I consider myself middle-class, and I'm not going to throw anything away unless it cost under $8, if I can help it.

      Well, you said you're trolling, but I suppose there might be people who have never used disposable cameras. They're not throw-away. You're basically renting them. You're paying for the convenience of not owning a camera or not having one with you. The camera doesn't get thrown away when you're done. You just don't get to keep it. More like leasing than renting, I guess. You take it to the processor, and they give you pictures and then refurbish the camera and sell it again.

      • The problem is that IMHO $20 is a lot to charge to rent a digital camera. I'd pay the $20 to buy one and hack it, sure, but not to use it in the way it was intended. I realize it has to be that expensive, to recoup the losses from people like us (and broken cameras), but at that price I doubt the market is large enough to be profitable.
        • Is it really a lot though? Let's say that 1/2 of the shots you get from an analog disposable camera are throwaways. That's generous, imo. I haven't bought one in a while, but the disposable cameras are generally $5-10? With this, you can go on a whole vacation and come back with 20 shots that you know are good quality for $20. With the current method, you have to shoot 100 shots and hope a few come out nice. Assuming developing costs are the same, and if you need 2-3x the analog prints to get the same amoun
      • by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:58PM (#10015000)
        >> You're basically renting them. ... You just don't get to keep it. More like leasing than renting, I guess.

        You described it correctly - as the company that markets it would. However, unless I have to sign a lease agreement to take one of these home, my transaction to purchase it can be considered final. There's no law that stops me from buying a radio, or a camera, or a disposable camera, or a disposable digital camera, then taking it home and smashing it with a mallet. Or, from taking it home and scrapping it for parts.

        The DMCA might (might**) prevent me from reverse engineering the encoding scheme on the memory to extract my pictures, but it certainly doesn't stop me from reusing the LCD screen.

        ** "might" is important. As the owner of the photographs I took, I have the rights to those pictures. It's not illegal to circumvent copy protections if you own the rights to copy the materials in question.

        Of course, if they do make you sign a lease agreement when you get the camera, which could include a requirement that you not destroy the camera, or that you cannot claim ownership of the photos in their encoded form, all of this may be moot.
    • by zerocool^ (112121) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:07PM (#10014346) Homepage Journal
      It depends... from the site, it appears to have a 16MB memory capacity, which at 2 megapixel is something like 50 or 60 pictures. Considering a decent disposable camera that takes 24 pics costs $5, this is less than twice as much per picture, and gives you the ability to preview and delete pics you don't want developed. Add to that the possibility of modding/hacking it and the potential environmental friendlyness of not using film, and you're not talking a huge cost for the value.
    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:20PM (#10014526)
      "Disposable" is quite a bit of a misnomer here. A more descriptive term might be "open-term rental".

      You "buy" the camera from your shop, carry it around for as long as you want, take some pictures with it, then you return to the shop to hand the camera in and get the pictures on it developed. The shop doesn't crack open the camera like a walnut shell and toss it in the trash -- after extracting your pictures from it, it's refurbished and re-"sold" to the next person.

      These aren't contributing to landfills any more than any other digital camera -- they only get disposed of when they've been damaged so badly that they cannot be repaired.
  • Hear that? That's the collective sigh of landfills across the nation.
  • Gauges (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:00PM (#10014227)
    I'm looking foward to sticking LCD gauges all around the house with these babies! :)
  • by jhoffoss (73895) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:00PM (#10014230) Journal
    Controller
    SMaL Camera Technologies

    Numbering on controller chip:
    AIC0021B
    02TWN5103
    C68051.00
    Memory
    16M x8 NAND Flash memory: Samsung K9F2808UO8-YCB0

    4Mx16 SDRAM: Micron Technologies MT48LC4M16A2TG-75E
    Preliminary stuff of interest
    The edge connector of the PV2 electrically matches that of the classic Dakota, at least as far as the USB pins go; whatever cable/contraption used to access the classic should work for this one without modifications.

    Holding down ALL the buttons at once (shutter, Display, Delete) while turning on power will display a diagnostic screen showing the camera's serial number, firmware revision and similar information.

    See John's Dakota page with an update for the PV2, including some USB info, datasheets for the more interesting parts (including the LCD) and a gallery of good dissection photos.
    USB info
    Here is the dump-out from SUCR commandline, walking thru the device properties. (All versions of SUCR do this, in case the manufacturer decided to get clever and move the devices/interfaces/endpoints/altsettings around). This gives a good idea of the 'organization' of the camera's USB interface.

    usb_set_debug: Setting debugging level to 3 (on) LIBUSB_DLL: usb_os_init: dll version: 0.1.8.0 LIBUSB_DLL: usb_os_init: driver version: 0.1.8.0 LIBUSB_DLL: usb_os_find_busses: found bus-0 LIBUSB_DLL: usb_os_find_devices: found \\.\libusb0-0003--0x058f-0x9254 on bus-0 LIBUSB_DLL: usb_os_find_devices: found \\.\libusb0-0004--0x0dca-0x0027 on bus-0 Looking at device with USB id 058F/9254 Looking at device with USB id 0DCA/0027 Found camera... This device has 2 possible configuration(s). Looking at configuration 0...This configuration has 1 interfaces. Looking at interface 0...This interface has 1 altsettings. Looking at altsetting 0...This altsetting has 2 endpoints. Endpoint 0: Address 81h, attributes 02h (Bulk) (In) Endpoint 1: Address 01h, attributes 02h (Bulk) (Out) Looking at configuration 1...This configuration has 1 interfaces. Looking at interface 0...This interface has 1 altsettings. Looking at altsetting 0...This altsetting has 2 endpoints. Endpoint 0: Address 81h, attributes 02h (Bulk) (In) Endpoint 1: Address 01h, attributes 02h (Bulk) (Out) Set config: 0 Found bulk endpoint 129 on Configuration 1 Interface 0 Altsetting 0 Set alt. interface: 0 [...]

    The camera has 2 configurations, one is for 200mA and the other is for 100mA, but "seem" otherwise identical. (See the testlibUSB dump-out below for additional details.) When the configuration is set by SUCR, the camera emits a 2-tone ascending beep, and the LED comes on. However, regardless of which of the configurations is used, all control transfers produce a CRC error message from Windows: LIBUSB_DLL error: error sending control message: win error: Data error (cyclic redundancy check).

    Here is the output from testlibUSB: DLL version: 0.1.8.0 Driver version: 0.1.8.0 bus/device idVendor/idProduct bus-0/\\.\libusb0-0002--0x0dca-0x0027 0DCA/0027 - Manufacturer : SMaL - Product : Digital Camera wTotalLength: 32 bNumInterfaces: 1 bConfigurationValue: 1 iConfiguration: 3 bmAttributes: 80h MaxPower: 100 bInterfaceNumber: 0 bAlternateSetting: 0 bNumEndpoints: 2 bInterfaceClass: 255 bInterfaceSubClass: 0 bInterfaceProtocol: 0 iInterface: 0 bEndpointAddress: 81h bmAttributes: 02h wMaxPacketSize: 64 bInterval: 0 bRefresh: 0 bSynchAddress: 0 bEndpointAddress: 01h bmAttributes: 02h wMaxPacketSize: 64 bInterval: 0 bRefresh: 0 bSynchAddress: 0 wTotalLength: 32 bNumInterfaces: 1 bConfigurationValue: 2 iConfiguration: 3 bmAttributes: 80h MaxPower: 50 bInterfaceNumber: 0 bAlternateSetting: 0 bNumEndpoints: 2 bInterfaceClass: 255 bInterfaceSubClass: 0 bInterfaceProtocol: 0 iInterface: 0 bEndpointAddress: 81h bmAttributes: 02h wMaxPacketSize: 64 bInterval: 0 bRefresh: 0 bSynchAddress: 0 bEndpointAddress: 01h bmAttributes: 02h wMaxPacketSize: 64 bInterval: 0 bRefresh: 0 bSynchAddress: 0
    Some dissection pictures
    Back of the PV2. The case is held together by 3 screw
  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:01PM (#10014259) Homepage Journal
    Is it possible to make something like this that's more trouble to hack than it's worth? How much work would it be?

    Embedded CPU with built-in mask-programmed or fusible-link ROM. Encrypted images in the flash, with the key in the CPU's ROM so it can't be read out. It shouldn't be impossible to lock something like this down hard enough that it'd cost more than the value of a cheap digicam to unlock it.
    • Well obviously they could lock it down - they could devise their own interface spec, build a custom chip to put in the camera...

      But in reality they decided to use off the shelf components to slash development costs and it's coming back to bite them.

      The problem with anything like that is, that the reverse engineering will always be more trouble than it's worth to the person who does the engineering. If i put 10 hours of my time into it then i could have bought a few cheap digicams with the money i've lost
    • ...until someone gets the key out of the development station (not a clean room solution), or someone with a SEM at some university reads the fuse links (not easy at all, but those university kids have a lot of time on their hands)
  • How much memory? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ianoo (711633) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:02PM (#10014262) Journal
    It doesn't mention how much memory is inside one of these things. Presumably, it could easily be enough for a couple of hundred 2MP pictures. If this is the case, combined with the preview/review LCD (one of the biggest advantages of digicams when on the road, IMHO), it could certainly be successful.
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:03PM (#10014283)

    Face it, 99% of the digital cameras out there are sold for the recording of the owners' bedroom adventures. Nobody's going to pick one of these cameras up when they realize that Betty Lou Bluehair down at the photo counter at Wal-Mart will get to see them rubbing up against some fat guy in a squirrel suit he had shipped over from Japan.

    • ...rubbing up against some fat guy in a squirrel suit he had shipped over from Japan.

      You can get a fat guy in a squirrel suit shipped from Japan? Wow, what will J-List [jlist.com] think of next?
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john...oyler@@@comcast...net> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:06PM (#10014322) Journal
    A $20 color LCD for all your cool projects!
    • If the individual parts of the camera are collectively worth significantly more than $20 (which is probably the case), I think you could make a lucrative business out of buying these cameras and parting them out on Ebay.

      Eventually, this would probably force the market into a true renting model where you have to return the camera.

    • Whitesheet on LCD (Score:4, Informative)

      by Launch (66938) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:51PM (#10014911)
      Whitesheet on LCD:

      http://homepages.nildram.co.uk/%7Edisplaze/PDF/L CD /AU%20Optronics/A015AN02V1.pdf

      looks like it should be very easy to use for other projects.
  • Not a bad move (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JOhn-E G (643553)
    This looks cool, not that I would use it as I have a digital camera [dpreview.com] that I am happy with already, but the retailers can reuse the cameras making it a little cheaper for them, and the disposable camera market seems to do pretty well. I think they can replace the disposable 35mm cameras with these fairly well. However as an end users more than maybe 7-8 uses of this becomes pointless as you can get your own one for that much. Though if they are hacked and they turn into $20 digital cameras then I think the
  • Even with amazingly inexpensive Chinese labour, you can't make a camera with LCD panel for $12 (the probably wholesale cost to the shop). Instead, they "refurb" and resell the camera to the next person - even if they replace the plastic case and battery, it'll probably only cost a couple of dollars to do. SO, they're amortizing the cost over a longer expected life-span. I wonder how many times these will get recycled. And I wonder how they work after being tossed around at a dozen or so frat parties...
  • My PV2 page (Score:5, Informative)

    by morcheeba (260908) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:08PM (#10014366) Journal
    I did the original hack on the old camera, and, of course, I'm working on the new one... here's my web page on it. [maushammer.com]

    The next step is a ROM dump -- then we can see if there is any code in the flash memory, or if it's stored on the ASIC. I suspect that there is a bootloader on the ASIC and the bulk of the code (certainly the pre-programmed images) is on the flash. Don't know if it's encrypted or scrambled yet.

    We're still working on the resolution of the sensor. I read the part number last night, but didn't return any google hits. We can't really rely on the size of the pictures one would get back from processing because, in the past, they've upscaled it.
  • They'll mark it up and charge $30 for it to make a larger profit.
  • by Brento (26177) * <`brento' `at' `brentozar.com'> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:12PM (#10014412) Homepage
    The first disposable digital camera was the SiPix Blink I got for $50 from Fry's. After using it, you want to throw it away even if you have the receipt, because you want to prevent any other human being from undergoing the sheer torture. I looked at the $50 as a charity expense.
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:12PM (#10014413) Homepage
    that I should google first but... I haven't had my quota for abuse today:

    Has anyone done any cool hardware hacks to utlize a digital camera's LCD for other purposes? (thinking case mod, mp3 jukebox (like a real jukebox [jukeboxcontrols.com] (friend's site), not an ipod) display.

    my understanding that trying to use an old laptop's LCD (separate from the laptop) is near unpossible or not worth the effort...

    *shrug* some sort of dimented light bulb went off when I saw the post...

    e.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:13PM (#10014421)
    If you read the fine print on the box it's "Interpolated" to 2 Megapixel.

    Don't expect it to look better than the 1.2 Megapixel camera it really is.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another unfortunately titled /. article leading to hundreds of pointless conversations by people who do not RTFA. I blame /. editors more than /. readers for this one though.

    The cameras are meant to be used once and returned to a printing facility, whereby the images are off-loaded and then the camera itself is put back into circulation.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:14PM (#10014435) Homepage
    LCDs are manufactured using an resource-intensive process, AFAIK, with large volumes of contanimated water as a waste product, and large volumes of dangerous chemicals being used/reused/disposed in the process.

    The same goes for CCDs and the electronic guts.

    How the fuck can anyone conceive this as a good idea? What an utter disregard for the inheritance of our children!

    That said, I want one, just to hack. But, shit, surely we humans have *got* to get a clue one of these days.
    • Jesus Christ, I do need to drink my coffee in the morning. Talk about a complete brainfart.

      I'd like to thank the first responder for being sensible and polite.

      Fuck the rest of you.
    • Film is much worse! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kombat (93720)
      LCDs are manufactured using an resource-intensive process, AFAIK, with large volumes of contanimated water as a waste product, and large volumes of dangerous chemicals being used/reused/disposed in the process.

      These cameras are reusable. Sure, there may be some waste during manufacturing, but the fact that the exact same materials can be used for hundreds of photos makes up for it.

      Film, on the other hand, uses equally nasty chemicals and byproducts, if not worse, and is a 1-shot deal. You can't "delete
  • by Gumber (17306) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:17PM (#10014481) Homepage
    Why do people insist on calling these cameras disposable?

    The business model is basically to rent them out for a rather steep $20, which gets you use of the camera until you fill the on-board memory and then a CD with your images after.

    My guess is that the retailers have a minimal markup on the camera with the expectation that they will make their money doing digital prints.

    The manufacturer makes their money by being able to rent the same camera multiple times.

    Certainly some of the cameras will be "lost" to hackers, but this is a cost of doing business and is probably far cheaper than creating and inforcing some sort of deposit mechanism since, for the average user, the "deposit" is the precious memories stored on the camera that they can only get back by returning the camera.

    If "hacking" of the cameras become widespread, then one can expect that the company will either take action or go out of business.

    If they take action, there will no doubt be much grousing among the slashdot community, but really, what right does a parasite have to complain when the host its bleeding dry seems to extingish it? Better to keep a low profile.
  • by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:22PM (#10014536) Homepage
    OK, time for me to be a pedantic jackass.

    I'd be willing to overlook the common misuse of "LCD" with "display" if it's prefaced with "an", as in "an El See Dee display". But beginning it with "a" makes it a clear case of saying "a Liquid Crystal Display display", which is just plain wrong.

  • by avandesande (143899) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:22PM (#10014540) Journal
    This will replace the disposable film camera, which does NOT get recycled, and ends up in the landfill.
  • Another Option (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@gm ... om minus painter> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:36PM (#10014719) Homepage
    I know most of the people on here are looking at this as an opportunity to get a usable digital camera for cheap (with a little elbow grease), but even if the attempts to hack it aren't successeful, the camera is still worth more than they're selling it for. You see, for hobbiest electronics people, LCD screens are ridiculously expensive. In single quantities you'd be lucky to get a lower resolution, monochrome LCD display for twice the cost of this camera, more likely three times the cost. LCD screens, more than any other products are given great discounts in bulk and huge price inflations in small quantities.
  • by gosand (234100) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#10014727)
    *sigh* I am sure others have a similar experience, but I bought a 2MP Kodak (DC280) back when they were $600. That was when I worked for a company that actually gave out bonuses. Don't get me wrong, I am really glad that I got it, but wow. I never would have guessed that 5 years later a $20 disposable camera would be of comparable quality. (I know mine probably takes better pictures, but it also weighs about 30 lbs and eats batteries like Cowboy Neal eats tacos).
  • by Blimey85 (609949) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:43PM (#10014810)
    Last time I was @ WDW it rained a couple times (typical FL weather) and I was worried that my digital camera would get wet and quit working. It's not a really expensive camera... was only a couple hundred bucks, but I don't really want to replace it due to it getting wet and shorting out or getting broken on a ride. I also don't like having to worry about losing it or getting it stolen. If I had been able to rent a digital camera while I was there, I would have done that instead of using my own. The quality may have not been quite as good but @ 2 megapixel they would have been good enough. I wonder if they will offer versions with larger capacity. If you could rent extra memory cards, that would be a bonus. I don't want to have to carry around 10 cameras with me... with mine I had a nice large memory card so I didn't have to swap it the entire trip and the spare I brought was tiny and fit in my little camera bag easily. Fitting 10 cameras into a camera bag would be a bit more difficult, not to mention trying to take all of those on a ride with you. So maybe cameras with quite a bit more capacity for those of us who want to rent one and have it last several days worth of pictures.
  • by digitalgimpus (468277) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#10014845) Homepage
    this is ugly.

    I wrote a paper about how some of this stuff is impacting the environment not to long ago. I thought I had an idea, ends up the actual numbers are WAY higher than I ever would have thought.

    http://robert.accettura.com/archives/000380.shtml [accettura.com]

    for anyone interested.

    It was an Environmental Bio paper, for my gen ed lab requirement. I'm a Business MIS/Comp Sci student, so like all students in the class, you orient the paper towards your field.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:47PM (#10014865) Homepage
    That was Kodak's original concept. It's over.

    This whole thing depends on "taking the camera back to the store". What's wrong with this picture?

    There's a desperate, last-ditch attempt by the camera industry to re-introduce consumables into a product that no longer needs them. Expensive incompatible flash memory cards, expensive special paper for inkjet printers, and, of course, the "printer ink" industry all fit this model. They're just delaying the inevitable.

    Incidentally, the inkjet situation should open up in a few years. Key patents are approaching expiration. The basic bubblejet patent expired this year.

  • by BillX (307153) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:41PM (#10018375) Homepage
    Granted, this is a discussion of the *new* Dakota cam with LCD, but I'm surprised the newest hacks of the old one haven't been mentioned:

    (All of these can be found on Rodrigo Balerdi's page [balerdi.com.ar])

    1) Run your own code on the camera
    A code loader has been written that allows you to nondestructively load your own executable code into the camera's 8MB (slightly less of it usable by you) DRAM. A small demo program from his site demonstrates the concept by blinking out a pattern on the 'Ready' LED, but programs of arbitrary complexity could be written...subject to the limitation that you can't access/execute any of the onboard firmware in this mode. (Bracing for the inevitable Beowulf-cluster comments...)

    2) Bye-bye 25-picture limitation
    Another clever hack lets you reset the 25-picture limit to an arbitrarily high number. This allows you to take pictures until the camera's FLASH memory actually fills up completely (under "real-world" outdoor picture-taking conditions, I've found this to be about 50 shots, but it will vary with how compressible your images are).

    3) Firmware updater and miscellaneous updates/bugfixes
    Balerdi's patchfile for an existing Dakota firmware corrects several nits/bugs with the original. It makes the number-of-pictures display count upward from 0 instead of downward from 25 (very useful in conjunction with the previous hack), ensures picture numbering starts from 1 everytime the camera is cleared and always remains consistent (even if you delete shots), and fixes a bug in the original firmware that could result in 2 pictures having an identical number/filename (making one impossible to download).
  • by otisg (92803) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:45PM (#10018406) Homepage Journal
    Here I am refusing plastic bags in stores, refusing to buy milk in plastic bottles, minimizing air conditioner use, hating myself for using a gas-powered outboard motor, trying to be nice to the environment in every way I can, and here we have businesses mass-producing disposable digital cameras.

    I thought everyone already knew that disposable stuff is baaaaad.

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