As even professional photographers will tell you, the iPhone is signaling a certain death for the standalone digital camera. Not only are iPhone cameras easy to use and already attached to a device that’s almost always attached to all of us, the image quality just gets better with every upgrade. This doesn’t bode well for makers of compact cameras: As Om Malik writes on his blog, 11 million digital camera units were sold in 2014, down from 44 million in 2010.
The Korean design studio BOUD, however, remains optimistic about compact cameras in the age of the iPhone. “The marketing data shows that the smartphone is eating up the other camera competition, but we’re not worried yet. There’s still room in the market,” says Oik Kwon, head of the company’s U.S. office. The company’s approach is to completely rethink the form of the compact camera with the Flex Cam PIC, a slender, bendable camera that looks like a cross between a Pixar character and a Livestrong bracelet.
The form isn’t zany for zany’s sake. It’s designed for maximum flexibility. Made of silicon, the PIC can transform its shape easily, making it simple to transport and mount on anything. And unlike GoPro or other compact cameras on the market, PIC doesn’t require additional equipment. Tie it to your wrist, bend it around your bike or hook it to your clothing for those hard-to-reach selfies. “You can use it without having accessories, it’s an all-in-one product,” says Kwon. “We wanted to provide a camera that the user can bring everywhere.”
Whether consumers will opt for a separate piece of equipment in addition to their iPhone camera remains to be seen, but the interest is there: the company successfully crowdfunded production on Indiegogo in September (though it has already missed the ship date) and was awarded the 2016 CES Innovation Award in Digital Imaging in November. Once PIC hits the market, it will be available for $148.95 for the basic model.*
*A previous version of this article stated that the PIC is $89. That is incorrect, it will actually sell for $148.95 for the basic model.