There are plenty of ways to turn video files into animated GIF images. But a new camera is designed to cut out the middleman by allowing you to shoot straight to animated GIF.

But that’s not even the most unusual thing about the OTTO camera. It also happens to have a hand-crank, hardware that’s powered by a Raspberry Pi device, and hackable software that lets you change the way the camera works.

You can also use it to shoot standard photos or videos.

The OTTO isn’t available on store shelves yet, but the developers have built a working prototype and they’re holding a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to start mass producing the device. You can reserve one for a pledge of $199 or more (the early backer $149 pledge level is all sold out).

The system is powered by the recently-released Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a tiny single-board computer with the same basic hardware as a a Raspberry Pi… but in a smaller package. It features a 700 MHz ARM11 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage.

OTTO is designed to be hackable, so in addition to supporting hardware add-ons like a flash module, owners can hack the hardware or use the OTTO SDK to modify the software with custom kernels or other Linux packages.

The device has a 5MP CMOS image sensors for photos and it can shoot 1080p videos at 30 frames per second (or VGA videos at up to 90 frames per second). If you use the animated GIF feature, just move the hand crank a bit for each new section of the picture and rewind it when you’re done.


Your images can automatically sync with your phone over WiFi and you can share photos with other users straight from the camera. You can also share custom camera modes, or software tweaks that change what happens when you snap the picture (such as adding effects to an image).

The developers don’t expect the camera to offer DSLR-quality images, but it’s cheaper… and shoots animated GIFs. It’s also the first commercial product based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

If the team raises $60,000 through Kickstarter, the first units could ship to backers by December, 2014.

via Raspberry Pi

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8 replies on “OTTO: Raspberry Pi-powered camera for shooting animated GIFs (crowdfunding)”

  1. Is there really not a better format for this to store in? Aren’t GIFs still hobbled by patents and whatnot? I believe animated PNGs were mooted at some point, but still zero support. I guess the wonderful world of proper video rather swept it all aside. Don’t think I’ll be stumping up cash to return to the dark ages.

      1. Ha, yes, shows how distracted I’ve been for the last decade… Still hobbled by being a load of low bit-depth crud though!

  2. I fail to see the purpose of this if what it does can be done on a smartphone. There’s also no possibility of using commercial lenses with that tiny sensor so it really is just another block of electronic to carry with you on top of your phone that does the exact same thing (minus the 90 fps of VGA) So you’re really buying this for wow or hipster factor.

    1. It uses a Pi, so “sense” doesn’t come into it. Still awaiting the “Pi equipped” car that is propelled by your feet sticking down through the hole where the floorboard would be.

      1. Like an updated version of the Flinstone car? 🙂 I think his was powered by ribs. 🙂

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