Some assembly required: Ikea’s first digicam takes ‘boxy’ to a new level


posted Friday, April 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM EDT

Ikea's KNÄPPA digital camera. Image provided by Ikea.Scandinavian megaretailer Ikea has gained worldwide fame--perhaps verging on notoriety--for product designs that pare things down to their very basics, and use cheap, sustainable materials wherever possible. Now, they've turned their attention to the imaging world, with the help of product designer Jesper Kouthoofd of Teenage Engineering A.B. The result? What Teenage Engineering describes as the "world's cheapest cardboard camera".

Of course, it wouldn't be an Ikea design without a quirky, hard-to-pronounce name, and the KNÄPPA camera doesn't dissappoint. It does, however, buck the company's norms in other respects. Any DIY fan can tell you that Ikea's products typically come flat-packed with extensive assembly required, and are accompanied by instructions that almost manage to be intelligible, despite containing few written words. By contrast, the KNÄPPA camera comes largely preassembled, with only two plastic thumbscrews to remove and replace so you can pop in a pair of AAA batteries.

Ikea's KNÄPPA digital camera. Image provided by Teenage Engineering AB. Click for a bigger picture!

Ikea's KNÄPPA digital camera.
Image provided by Teenage Engineering AB.

The Ikea KNÄPPA's folded cardboard exterior is unusual, but we've seen stranger before. (Olympus' prototypes of a wooden digital camera shown at Photokina a few years back probably still take that prize!) Beneath the skin, KNÄPPA is as simple as can be. Storage is built-in, with room for just 40 shots at unspecified resolution, and there's no flash strobe or LCD display. The only controls are a combined power / shutter button, and a recessed button that wipes the camera's memory as needed.The sole indicator is a dual-color LED that shows both battery and memory status. A somewhat ungainly fixed USB connector projects from the camera's side at all times.

For a rundown on KNÄPPA's abilities, watch the beautifully tongue-in-cheek video from the camera's designers below.

The Ikea KNÄPPA camera was apparently given away at a press event in Milan, Italy last week, but rumor has it that it will be arriving in Ikea stores soon. Based on the fact that the company has gone to the trouble of creating a 29-language user manual--wordier than any we've seen from Ikea to date--we'd have to guess the rumors are right.

Update: Japanese freelance journalist Nobuyuki Hayashi, who attended the Milan press event, has a few more pictures of the Ikea camera, as well as a quick snapshot captured with it...

(via PetaPixel)