Moving portraits were once only possible in the realms of fiction - most notably in the Harry Potter movies and books. However, thanks to augmented reality, we can bring still images to life these days. Just point your phone at a set target image and take a look at the screen.
Mostly this works with predetermined AR images, in a magazine or at a bus stop, for example. But now you can make your own photos come to life using a new pocket-sized printer and accompanying augmented reality app.
Lifeprint is an AR photo printer (with a free app) that enables you to instantly print stills from an iPhone or Android device. And if they are part of a video you have on your phone, you can hold the finished print up to watch it animate.
The latest version of the printer is priced £134.95 and is only tiny - about the size of a 6 x 4 photo itself - and prints 3 x 4.5-inch stills (the former model was even smaller and printed 2 x 3 pictures) It connects to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and comes with a rechargeable battery so you can take it anywhere.
It uses ZINK Zero Ink Technology to produce instant, full-colour images without ink cartridges, ribbons or toner. The special paper, which contains the "invisible" code to work with the accompanying app, can be bought in packs of 20, and costs £29.99 in the UK.
It is this paper, combined with the app, that lets you print live photos from Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more.
On the surface, the printed photos look like any other that you would get from a Zink printer, with an almost Polaroid style feel and look to them. It’s only when you fire up the accompanying app that the photos "magically" come to life.
The app, which is slightly confusing in places, also works as a social platform for others to share their Lifeprint photos, a viewer to see printed efforts come to life in the physical world, and an editor to create Lifeprints from a variety of sources.
While you could argue that you can already achieve interactive photos on your phone screen, the charm of the Lifeprint photos, which the company calls "HyperPhotos", is that they are physical photo prints that you can frame on your wall or shelf, but still contain that funny moment only captured by video or movement. The little dance or wry smile.
In the flesh, they look the part and the app works really well in recognising the image and then playing either the Live Photo capture or, if you want, a completely different video or Gif.
While somewhat pricey, it's a great showcase for what is possible with augmented reality, and one that everyone we've shown has responded to with a smile.