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Robot automates product photography

Square, a mobile credit card payment company, has launched a robotic photo studio in the US which provides product photography from just US$9.95. There are no plans to expand the robot photographer to Australia, so local photographers need not worry – yet.

Square’s Robot Photo Studio.

‘We’re still in early days but are excited about the interest we’ve seen in Square Photo Studio,’ Caitlin Walsh, Square Australia communications manager, told Inside Imaging. ‘While we have no immediate plans to expand the service to Australia, we’re always exploring new ways to get vital services, like professional product photography, into the hands of the sellers that need them.’

The Photo Studio offers product photography at one tenth of the price of comparable services, Square says, with each product photographed for US$9.95. Or US$29.95 for 360-degree animated photos.

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The way it works is US sellers pay for return shipment of products to Square, the robot captures the product from three angles, and image files are returned in under 14 days. Square offers free shipping on orders of 20 products or more, and discounts may be offered on orders of 30+ products.

‘The new service leverages state of the art robotics to provide sellers with an affordable, scalable, and easily accessible alternative to traditional photography, which is often time-consuming and cost-prohibitive,’ Square says.The folk at Square are aiming the Photo Studio at online store operators who use platforms like Amazon, Esty, or Instagram. Since it’s $10 a pop per product, it seems geared toward retailers looking for low volume product photography with the basic ‘high-volume’ style.

‘We built Square Photo Studio because we don’t want anyone to be priced out of professional product photography. We’re always working on new and exciting ways to give online sellers access to the tools they need to make a sale – regardless of what channel they’re selling on,’ said David Rusenko, general manager of Square eCommerce.

Square’s Photo Studio isn’t that affordable for sellers with more than 15 products. In the US, Amazon offers product photography to sellers through its Business Services with pricing that competes with Square. In New York, a product photography studio will photograph up to 25 products from three angles for US$118, and in Los Angeles the figure is closer to US$250.

The hype seems to be mostly around Square’s robotic arm. Artificial intelligence and robots make headlines right now. While there may well be a robotic arm buzzing around a product, using an AI-driven machine learning algorithm to find the best lighting and composition, but there’s probably still a human element involved. Up to a 14-day turnaround for digital files does not sound like robot efficiency.

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