PetaPixel

COVR iPhone Case Helps You Take Better Candid Photos… Or Be a Creeper

covr1

The best camera is the one you have with you, and most of the time that camera is part of a device that also makes phone calls and serves as a platform for whatever Flappy Bird clone stole your heart when the original app was pulled.

The problem is, if you’re a photographer using your phone you’re probably capturing a moment that’s about to pass… a moment you often destroy that second you take out your phone and point it at someone. That’s where the COVR iPhone case comes in.

The idea is simple: the case features a sliding section on the back that lets you move a prism lens into place for when you want to take photos while holding the phone perpendicular to your subject. This, explains creator and photojournalist Thomas Hurst, helps you to not only take better candid shots, but also experiment with different shots altogether:

Hurst really got to the heart of the problem when he told Wired, “To make good pictures, you have to be there, but you can’t be there.” COVR lets you do that, and even though the invention might come off as voyeuristic to some, many others see it as a great idea.

The mirror slides up and down to let you decide how you want to use your camera, the glass used is high-end so that image quality isn’t degraded substantially, and focal length doesn’t change when you’re using the mirror vs when you’re not.

covr2

Currently up on Kickstarter, Hurst and Co. need to raise a substantial $80,000 by May 5th to cover all of their start-up costs and get COVR in people’s hands by September. So far they’ve raised almost $12K, and things look to be moving right along.

If you’d like to learn more or support this project, head over to the Kickstarter campaign and reserve your own black or white COVR case and the accompanying COVR Photo app for $55. For now it’s only available for the iPhone 5 and 5s, but plans for iPhone 4 and Android phone cases are in the works, assuming they get funded.

(via Wired)


 
Get the hottest photo stories delivered to your inbox.
Get a daily digest of the latest headlines:
  • Frank Larsen

    for creepy people..oh lord how happy they are right now!

  • COVR Photo

    Hi Frank,

    Totally stoked that you get that technology isn’t what defines “creepy” – it’s the twisted behavior and intention of people that defines “creepy.” If we stopped creating and inventing because of creepy people we’d still have creepy people…minus all the really innovative and important technology we use everyday. I hate the idea that people would take something I’ve invented (initially for my own wife to more easily capture the special moments of our children) and use it to keep being creepy dirt bags. But I wonder if the makers of smartphones ever wrestled through the concerns we’re talking about here with their own inventions. Do you think smartphone companies ever considered not making smartphones because creepy people around the world would buy one and would use them to do lots, and I mean LOTS, of creepy things? More creepy things have been created with smartphones than the COVR Photo Lens Case will ever help create, but I sure am thankful for smartphones because they allow us to get information when we really need it, they help us call the police or fire department when there is an emergency, and they allow parents around the world the peace of mind to know their children are safe and not dead in a ditch. While I can’t control if people who use COVR Photo Lens Case to make beautiful pictures of beautiful moments or if they use it to be creepy, I do take the issue seriously, to the point at which I have spent several thousand dollars of my personal money buying up as many X-rated URLs that creepy people might attempt to tie to “COVR” as I can afford as a bootstrapping inventor. If you go and try to buy the “COVRPORN.COM” or “COVRGIRLS.COM” or “COVRXXX.COM” you’ll find that they’ve already been purchased…by me, the inventor of COVR Photo and the not “creepy” husband and father of four, who’s always going to try and help people capture beautiful fleeting moments of the people we love or the beauty of this world.

    I really do appreciate the insight in your post.

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • Reciprocity

    Great, yet another reason for people to shoot video in portrait mode…

  • furcafe

    Sounds like a modern incarnation of the WINKO & WINTU viewfinders for the old (screwmount) Leicas. IIRC, Helen Levitt, Ben Shahn, & Walker Evans used them on occasion.

  • Burnin Biomass

    LOL… reminds me of the Super Secret Spy Lens
    http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/candid-photography-spy-lens/

    I remember these being sold in Porters for decades. Ok, at least one decade.

  • skurge2144

    Do people still say ‘pwnd’ in 2014? ¬¬

  • http://batman-news.com Jason H

    I like the idea, but I feel like it wouldn’t work well as an every day case with the prism on the back all the time.

  • Jacques Montpelier

    The only creepy thing I can think of is, Big Oil polluting without a care in the world.

  • Guest

    I totally understand the idea that this could be creepy, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t appeal to me.

    I do have one note on the product, aside from ethics: The “lens” looks in the photos like it’s just a mirror, rather than some sort of prism. If that’s true, I would be very interested in seeing a version where it folds flat against the case when not in use.

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Hi Rabi – its not a mirror, it’s high quality glass prism – I gave a lot of time, thought, and research to the collapsible mirror idea and in the end I moved away from it for a few different reasons. First, there are already patents filed for just that type of idea and those patents are owned by companies that have the type of cash that lets you go to court. I on the other hand have the type of cash that lets me go to the food court. Second, I was a photojournalist for 20 years and a high quality image matters to me at the end of a day of shooting. Using a mirror rather than high-grade prism glass is a significant downgrade in quality. While it might have seemed like a cool concept in the package, and would have cost me way less then the prisms I’m using, I just couldn’t poor my heart and soul into something I people would soon was crap after the bought it. As well, trying to keep the mirrors clean is hard as hell, and the pop design meant that if stuff like pocket lint and finger prints got in there – and is does – you were either going to have to clean the mirror every time you took it out of your pocket or just relent to the idea that your pictures were going to look crappy and have hair and lint specs on in you cherished moment picture. And another thing, the mirrors I was looking at were all distorting the images – meaning that everything was much closer than you are used to when using your iPhone camera and by this time I was all done considering the flip up mirror option.

    Hope that helps and have a great day,

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Good point Jacques – that is creepy

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    I don’t know what the hell all that meant, but I know the word Leicas so if my COVR lens reminds anyone of something they once saw on a Leicas that’s pretty Bad A$$!

  • Thekaph

    :)

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    I agree – shooting video in portrait mode is not awesome – I got that COVR’d (see what I just did right there?) – If I can get through our KS funded, my next design will have the ability to shoot landscape also – after that, if people still shoot video in portrait mode with COVR then there’s just no hope for some people.

    Have a great day,

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • Will

    Why even mention the word ‘creeper’ in the article? Photographers are forever striving to shoot candid photos without their subjects being aware. Why should this accessory be tainted with such negative connotations?

  • http://batman-news.com Jason H

    Thought: How about a removable prism? I don’t think I’d keep this current case on my phone, and frankly it’d just get left at home. But if the case had a slot for the removable prism, then I could just put the prism (in a container of some sort) in my bag, or my pocket if I feel like, and pop it on when I need.

    Just a thought. :)

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Will – You are THE MAN! Preach it!

  • Norshan Nusi

    Of course there are times where I need to shoot my subject without they being aware of it.

    I kinda love the design though, reminds me of my Kyocera SL400R….

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    I love it that you love it…our design that is! It’s a blast to shoot with!

  • buck pago

    Hey covr, similar product is in the market now. Perhaps you also get your supplies from them?

  • buck pago

    Removable prism is available in the market, better than this on because you can mount it facing the side of your phone so you can use it on landscape mode

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Hey Buck – not sure who you’re referring too – fill a brother in

  • Will

    It’s a shame having this built into the format of an iPhone 5 case means it won’t be compatible with the larger format iPhone 6 rumoured to be released later this year. Was a clip-on, slide-on approach like the olloclip considered?

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Hey Jason,

    At that point you should just use some of the amazing attachable lens’ being offered right now – check out Moment Lens, created by Marc Barros and his team in Seattle – one of they key features for COVR is that you don’t lose the picture because you have to attach something onto your phone at the last second and you don’t have to plan a day and time to go out shooting with your add on lens – its designed to always be with you in everyday life when its with you ready to go when something crazy or beautiful happens.

    Check out Moment – I’m a huge fan of theirs!

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    Cover Photo

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Thats a really great point Will – Fortunately my business partner and the genius engineer behind the COVR case and Prism optics is already looking at the developer specs on the iPhone 6 so we’ll be ahead of the game and have the COVR Photo Lens Case for iPhone 6 ready to rock after they hit the market! I’m not playing around with this COVR case idea – I’m COVRing all the angles! (see what I just did right there?)

  • http://batman-news.com Jason H

    Moment appears to just be detachable lenses, not a prism style… unless I’m missing something…?

  • http://batman-news.com Jason H

    Link? :)

  • aaa

    If the only thing you took out of his comment was Leica, than you have no knowledge of photography. Come on, he dropped W. Evans!!! Walker f. Evans

  • Gideon Tunguy-Desmarais

    how easy is it to slip in one’s pocket with the prism attached?

  • Frank Larsen

    Hehe, sorry.., but to my defense, it was written in the title you know.

    it looks like a fine gadget to make it easier to take photos without beeing cought in action. Thats what’s beeing showed in the video also. So 1+1=2

    I like taking pics of people, and several times had problems with taking it without beeing notised, mostly because I dont want to be caught (embarasing and maybe they don’t like it and want to slap my face) or for them to not stop what they are doing. Am I a creepy guy? No i don’t think so. But I think about the rest of the world, and then I’m not so sure.
    yes, its many other gadgets, small ball pen cams, or coathangers with a camera in, that people with those interests can take advantage of.
    Does it make your product better, worse or similar? It’s all up to the user. If I’m taking it far.. I erased that..

    I like my tilt screen camera, and who knows, maybe I support your product and use my cell as a “tilted” screen.

    Anyhow, If there is a product that will be named:
    Upskirt product of the year 2014, I’m pretty sure it will be this one!

  • Frank Larsen

    And.. do you remember what happened a couple of years after cameras started to be usual in cellphones?

    All cell’s with camera needed to have a shuttersound!!

    And there was no way to turn it off. Do you know why they did this?
    i’m not agains your product, or smartphones, but if you bought all those URL’s, I guess you understand my comment.

    I want the world to be beautiful as well. Friends?

  • Bruce Craig

    Just wondering if the prism can rotate to take both portrait and landscape photos?

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Frank you are for sure friends – If I am sounding like a jerk I’m sorry, I know this is an area people are going to run too, I just don’t want a really hard working invention like mine to be killed or dismissed because people want to label it evil when its not – we are friends Frank (but its wrong to say its going to win creepy tool of the year, thats not right) – we can still be friends though – now go to my KS page and buy a case –

    Thomas

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    very popular question Bruce, but I’m for sure glad to answer it – no,
    right now you can only shoot vertical, however, I’ve already drafted and
    patented a design for a Pro-line of COVR Photo cases that will allow you to
    shoot both portrait/vertical and landscape/horizontal. Saying that, I dare not
    look to far ahead because if this campaign doesn’t fund and the market for COVR Lens Cases isn’t very interested, then the “next” ideas don’t mean
    anything. I really appreciate questions so thank you for asking.

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Great Question and another one we get a lot – I keep it in my pants pockets and have no problems with it because the way I’ve set the prism on this particular case is far less noticeable then caring your keys or wallet in your pocket. I understand that it has the ‘appearance’ of feeling of being awkward in your pocket, but it actually doesn’t at all. As I was studying and working on the design with Steve my super genius Engineering Ninja, I started watching people and how they put their phones in their front or back pockets and what I learned is the overwhelmingly vast majority of people who keep their phones in the pants pocket, put the screen face side inward against their skin. That’s when I realized I instinctively do that too and the reason being as I have and instinctual phobia of cracking my screen and so does just about everyone else – so the prism which sits under .75″ high from screen face to prism tip, is always pointing out away from us and not jabbed into our leg,

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    You right Jason – they are attachable – which I think is a better option if you are more interested in the prism on/off idea.

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    I’ve never seen it – sounds cool if on/off feature is what is most important to you – for me if its not a quick rotation from portrait to landscape – I’m not using it – whether its with your kids or breaking news you have to have your camera ready to go right now – its one or two movements at most and you’ve got to be shooting sharp pictures – if you’re into taking pictures if stuff that doesn’t change or move you should run out and buy the best interchangeable anything that you think is going to provide you the best quality image. But if you’ve got to take something off and put something back on and you fumble a little bit our there is some lint in the way or you had too much coffee…well you just missed the moment.

    You always have to the right tool for the job, so its best to know why you want the tools you want.

    Thomas

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Frank,

    I’m not going to lie – I just spent an hour posting you a unbelievable response, that probably would have had you laughing and crying, but it turns out that whomever is review the post on this blog perhaps some how felt it was not to standard because it had disappeared – super bummed you didn’t get to read it or that other people didn’t get to read it either. I think with that I’m going to jump off – I have about 10 other blogs to be on and if I’m going to have my posts deleted after I spent all that time writing them I’m not going to bother with writing them. If there is a way that post could at least be sent to my email which is on file it sure would be helpful to have it.

    Thanks

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    Yes, that is landscape alright…with no ability to be subtle, no chance your going to carry that in your pocket when you go out on a date with your wife, and no way your ever finding it in your backpack or purse when you really need it…but it for sure shoots landscape

  • l0k

    you can shoot landscape, but you have to turn the other way – i.e. you look like you’re photographing something to the west, but actually you’re photographing north

  • l0k

    could something not be done about the shape of the prism? (or rather, the casing around the prism) I think I’m not alone in that I wouldn’t mind a tad more bulk if I could then avoid that sharp angle

  • Vin Weathermon

    iPhones: No longer Mirrorless! Would be a good add on for the back of the EOSM to have a pentaprism viewer…

  • Island In The Sky

    Ugh, Hurst – hijacking a comment section for the purpose of promoting his invention. Talk about creepy.

    Hopefully COVeRt never makes it to mass-market. I see freaks out in public trying to be surreptitious pretending to be doing something other than lining up a shot of a stranger when aiming their smartphone. Hurst’s ongoing, self-serving, corporate “ad-speak” in his comments here do not make one feel any more comfortable about the product.

  • Kengu Jeac

    But you should’t play with your phone while on a date, and if you do, there should’t be any reason to be subtle?!?

    Just joking…but some truth;)

  • D.G. Brown

    My phone might be special, but it also has a front-facing camera, which comes in handy for photographing the underside of my desk when the need arises ;-)

    (I actually have a camera with a tilting screen, so I understand what you’re saying since it’s pretty useful, but just had to poke some fun)

  • D.G. Brown

    Lest I incur the wrath of the COVR Photo user account, I shall remain quiet…

    I’m kidding ;-) (and I love that you guys are engaged on this)

    Obviously, there are two sides to the “creepy” equation. Good and practical technologies only become “creepy” in the hands of those with creepy intent. That makes sense, but also sounds a bit binary in regard to human nature. The fact of the matter is that everybody is somewhere on a creepy scale, but their actions are a mix of that and factors such as how easy it is to be creepy and how likely they are to get caught.

    And easy example of this is just having some lady bend over to pick up something she dropped on the floor. The same guy might avert his eyes if a female counterpart is with him, but stare in her absence. That’s the getting caught part. There’s also the fact that if he’s already looking that way, he’s more likely to look than if he has to completely turn around. The easier it is to look, the more likely he is to do it.

    A product like the COVR doesn’t make people creepy, obviously, but it does enable creepiness that might not otherwise manifest. Many of the same concerns are said all the time about Google Glass. One of my coworkers is convinced they can only be used for nefarious purposes since you never know when it’s recording (and I did point out to him that there are products to help with that). Any camera that is unfamiliar to people or doesn’t make obvious that it is recording can have the same suspicion associated with it.

    The difference here, however, is that the selling point of this product is to obscure the act of taking a photo. You’re kidding yourselves if you think that anyone is going to buy this to look under the fridge for their keys (or other valid uses that the tilt screens help with that are built into all the newer cameras). Just to repeat, the point of this case is to obscure the act of taking a photo.

    So why would someone buy this product, then? Well, I can see four reasons:

    1. They love taking pictures or the sky, tall building they are standing next to, having to look under things all the time, or are trying to bring on a new waist-level Instagram trend. Ooh, or bike mounted video, though in vertical that could get nauseating. Basically, they want a tilty screen, but don’t want to buy and/or carry a compact.

    2. They have family and/or friends who are impossible to get good candid pictures of. I’m pretty sure there are people that will want to buy it for this reason, but that doesn’t seem like it would be a huge sales motivator.

    3. Street photographers and their kin, aka the non-creepy or less-creepy. It still bothers me shooting in vertical for this, but maybe everyone is going Instagram these days with the square crop anyway. Really, I think this will be the bulk of the “legit” users.

    4. Creepers. At least until people get used to the concept of people being able to shoot a picture while holding their phone at that angle, this is candy for creepers.

    Having listed them out, I’m pretty sure that #1 will only exist on the list as the reason everyone tells their friends they got it. #2 I think will apply to some people, especially younger, more social people or those with kids, but won’t be broadly adopted. #3 Will be the face of the product and probably how most people get to know it. And #4 will say that they are #1 when their friends ask why they got it and say they are #3 when caught in the act. And there will be a lot of #4.

    But that’s just my humble speculation…

  • http://www.covrphoto.com COVR Photo

    No Wrath Here D.G. Brown -

    Really well written post by you with a lot of really good insights, conclusions, and you support them – I appreciate the time you put into your post, thanks for writing it.

    I don’t doubt people will be creepy with it, but this isn’t what makes people creepy – its the same thing I’ve been saying so I’m not go ranting about it to you. At the end of the day there are some great reasons to shoot with COVR or any other technology that offers us the chance to capture something beautiful in the midst of so much garbage and horror in our culture. In the end I want people to enjoy what I’ve poured the last two years of my heart and soul in and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t sting a bit when so many look at it and leap directly to creepy – I didn’t brand COVR or create a marketing message to conceal some alternative motive or market focus, I created the message and branding to reflect what my heart and hope is for COVR when it’s being used as I have always dreamed it would be – enabling us to capture beautiful images of friends, family, or the world that surrounds us. I guess it will be the hill I die on, but perhaps people could at least try seeing that vision for COVR before labeling it and dismissing it as a tool for filth.

    I said I wasn’t going to go on a rant, not sure if I held true to that, but thanks for listening.

    The three images below are all shot with the COVR Photo Lens Case
    Photo Credit: Man in Glasses – Richard Koci Hernandez
    Photo Credit: Couple Walking – Michael Robinson Chavez
    Photo Credit: Me and my three sons launching our COVR KickStarter Campaign – Family Friend.

    Thomas Hurst
    Founder
    COVR Photo

  • Frank Larsen

    Great answers everyone.
    I will just go through one thing. And its not about the case or upskirts.
    People are used to that you will have a phones backside facing at you if somebody tries to take a photo of you. Guess the idea of the case is to not have to do this, and cause an unwanted behavior in the subjects action.
    Therefore the subject will behave as nobody will take a photo, maybe more freely than the other way around.
    So if you see that as a way for not making kids aware of that they are been taking photos of, or taking a photo of somebody not fullly covring their body from any angle, without them noticing, I’s up to the user.

    edit:
    it will work as a “spy-cam” either way, if you use it for good, or bad, it is still a product for not being caught while snapping.

    To Thomas Hurst, good luck with your career! (no pun intended)