“Would Steve Jobs be happy with this?” – Patrick O’Neill on Making the Olloclip

Patrick O’Neill is the inventor of the Olloclip, a product that melds his profession of creating and designing computer access and his love of photography. Patrick was born in Long Beach, CA; lived all over the USA growing up and moved to London to work in the computer industry in his early 20s. He lives in Huntington Beach, California and is a dual national UK/USA citizen. He has had a passion for photography and film since he was young boy and still has his original Kodak super 8 camera he got when he was 10. About 15 years ago he got his first digital camera; he loved it and was forever hooked.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the Olloclip especially with the macro lens. All of the recent macro photos on DisplayBlog were shot with an iPhone 4 with the Olloclip. The Olloclip is simple, elegant, and really easy to use—exactly the type of product that I seek out. I asked Patrick a few questions about the Olloclip and here’s what he had to say.

Jin Kim: Can you describe what was going on in your life, in your head, when you first thought you’d like to make the Olloclip?

Patrick O’Neill: I had been getting smart phone and PDA accessories made for another company for about 10 years and I have been a photographer my whole life. When the first camera phones came out I knew I wanted to make add on lenses for them but the cameras were not great and there was no elegant way to mount the lenses.

Then the iPhone 4 came out I knew the camera was good enough and then it just came to me out of the blue as to how we could mount the lenses in a simple and elegant way.

JK: How did the design of the Olloclip come about? What were your considerations? Which were most important?

PO: Simplicity has been the driving factor through the whole design process. We made over 100 prototypes before we launched on Kickstarter. I would ask myself during the process “would Steve Jobs be happy with this?” the answer would be no and we would make some more prototypes until we got to where we are now.

JK: From concept to prototype what was the most difficult challenge? And how did you overcome it?

PO: Solving the problem of the off center fisheye was the single biggest challenge and it took us over 6 months, that was one of my WWSJD moments and I am so proud that we kept working and solved it. BTW that is part of our patent and we are obviously the only company that has solved that issue.

JK: What should Olloclip customers expect in their total experience of using one?

PO: The olloclip customers should expect to have creative options in their pocket when the mood strikes them to make a picture. They will hardly notice the three lenses in their pocket, it is half the size and a third the weight of my car key. They can switch between 3 focal options in about 6 seconds, I don’t know of a faster camera lens change system.

I guess I would just like to say that the olloclip is the creative lens system for anyone that likes to take pictures. We designed it to be so simple to use that you don’t really even need a manual. We are not just for pro photographers but they were some of the first to embrace the olloclip and some of the most famous photographers in the world own olloclips. We are also introducing so many people to the amazing world of macrophotography. It is just amazing to see all of the pictures that people at posting to Instagram and Flickr and tagging #olloclip, you should do a search on popular gram.