- A Welsh student has invented a key-ring sized digital fisheye camera
- The Little Cyclops measures in at just 4cm long and 2cm high
- Inventor Greg Dash only plans to release 1,000 of the devices before moving on to other products
Twenty-five year-old student Greg Dash was frustrated. He wanted to take "fisheye"-style camera pictures without having to pay for an expensive lens, or fiddle around with a smartphone app. He wanted something light and small that he could pull from his pocket at a moment's notice. Unfortunately such a device did not exist.
So, he went ahead and invented it.
Measuring just four centimeters long and two centimeters high, the "Little Cyclops" has only two buttons and no viewing screen.
However, an array of nifty features -- including a timelapse mode, 12 megapixel resolution and HD video recording capabilities -- have proven so popular with photography enthusiasts that the camera easily surpassed its funding target on the crowdsourcing website, Indiegogo.
The Little Cyclops had raised $100,000 as donations came to a close this morning, almost double the initial $53,000 target.
"It's all been a bit overwhelming," said Dash. "At one point I was getting an email every seven minutes and it has been just impossible to respond to everyone.
"Because the money has gone so far over the goal now though I can get other people on board to help get the cameras out," he added.
Dash says he first came up with the idea for the camera late last year when he was unable to find an affordable fisheye lens to use with his own digital SLR camera.
He resolved to fashion one himself using an old camera and a lens he had custom made.
When friends were impressed with the results he decided to see if he could raise the funds to put his invention into production.
A manufacturer -- which he doesn't wish to reveal as he is still in the pre-production phase -- was then sourced to make a limited run of 1,000 devices completely from scratch which will be sold on a first-come first-served basis.
The cameras are priced at $100 each and orders have already arrived from as far afield as Japan and Taiwan.
"It's been amazing as there has been interest from everywhere really, all over the world," Dash said.
"I was even invited to go on Dragon's Den (a popular British TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their products and ideas to prominent businesspeople) but there's no way I'm going on that," he added.
Despite the unforeseen level of interest, Dash says he has no plans to go into the serious business of mass production any time soon.
His main priority remains studying towards a PhD on the economic and social impact of wind energy development at the University of Aberystwyth in his native Wales.
The success of Little Cyclops however has helped him pay-off mounting student fees and encouraged him to further test his powers of invention.
He now has a new limited edition camera in the pipeline which he hopes to release at the end of the summer, although he remains tight-lipped as to what exactly that may be.
"There's going to be a view finder added and a load of other features but I don't want to give away what it is yet," he said.
"It's going to be able to do something that you can't do on any smartphone and would usually cost hundreds of pounds but I can do it for about £50 ($76)."
Dash plans to listen to feedback on the Little Cyclops before finalizing the design of his next product and crowdsourcing for funding.
For now, however, the main priority is to continue with his studies while indulging his passion for photography and camera development when he can.
"It's not a business really, just a project that I'm working on to see what we can do with cameras and have a bit of fun with them," he said.
"I really enjoy my PhD and the work that I do so if the money I make from the cameras makes that a bit easier or more comfortable for me then all the better."