Lytro

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Lytro, Inc.
TypePrivate
Founded2006
Founder(s)Ren Ng
Key peopleRen Ng, Executive Chairman; Kurt Akeley, CTO; Charles Chi, Interim CEO
ProductsDigital camera
Websitelytro.com
 
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Lytro, Inc.
TypePrivate
Founded2006
Founder(s)Ren Ng
Key peopleRen Ng, Executive Chairman; Kurt Akeley, CTO; Charles Chi, Interim CEO
ProductsDigital camera
Websitelytro.com
The front...
...and back side of a Lytro light-field camera

Lytro, Inc. is a light-field camera startup company founded in 2006 by Ren Ng, a light-field photography researcher at Stanford University.[1] Lytro's products are targeted to consumer use,[2][3] while the first company to enter the market of plenoptic cameras, German company Raytrix, has targeted its products to industrial and scientific applications of light-field photography.

Lytro produces its own cameras rather than licensing its technology with an established manufacturer.[4] In 2011, Lytro demonstrated capability to produce a camera that allows users to change the focus of a picture after the picture is taken.[5] According to TechCrunch, plenoptic cameras, such as Lytro's, capture the entire light field around a picture, all in one shot taken on a single device, rather than just capturing one plane of light. As a result, users can refocus photos after they have already been taken, change the orientation and display the photos in 3D."[6]

The company's first camera went on sale October 19, 2011 in 8 GB and 16 GB versions,[7] and began shipping on February 29, 2012.[8][9]

In February 2012, the company won the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal’s Idea and Innovation Award in the consumer technology category.[10][9]

History[edit]

Ren Ng, Lytro original CEO and founder, holding a Lytro camera.

While he was a researcher at Stanford, Ng was photographing a friend's daughter and noticed "it was incredibly difficult to focus the image properly and capture her fleeting smile in just the right way."[11] After completing his Ph.D, Ng decided to use his experience in light field research to "start a company that would produce light-field cameras that everyone could enjoy."[11] The company was originally named Refocus Imaging, before launching as Lytro.

Lytro board members include Ben Horowitz, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz; Patrick Chung, partner at NEA; and TiVo cofounder Mike Ramsay,[12] with Charles Chi of Greylock Partners serving as Executive Chairman.[13] Advisors include Intuit cofounder Scott Cook, VMware cofounder Diane Greene, Dolby Labs chairman Peter Gotcher and Sling Media cofounder Blake Krikorian.[12]

Lytro founder Ng was Lytro's first CEO. Lytro’s Chief Technology Officer Kurt Akeley was a founding member of Silicon Graphics.[13] In June of 2012 Ren Ng announced that he would be changing roles and be Lytro's Executive Chairman focused on innovation. Charles Chi would change from Executive Chairman to interim CEO while Lytro's board begins looking for a new CEO.

In June 2011, Apple CEO Steve Jobs purportedly met with Lytro CEO Ren Ng to discuss improvements for the iPhone camera.[14]

Products[edit]

Taking a photo with a Lytro camera.

Lytro's plenoptic camera features a matrix of tiny lenses on a sensing chip.[15] These sensors gather light from different sources and directions. The camera itself is a squared-off tube less than five inches long with a lens opening at one end and an LCD touch screen at the other. The first generation of the camera comes in two options: one with 8GB of memory (which can hold 350 pictures) and one with 16GB (which can hold 750 pictures).[16][17][9]

Investors[edit]

As of June 21, 2011, Lytro has raised approximately $50 million.[18][19] This round of funding was led by NEA, with participation of investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners and K9 Ventures and along with individual investors.[12][9]

Technology[edit]

Light-field photography (also known as plenoptic photography) captures the available light in a scene coming from more than one direction.[12] It works by breaking up the main image with an array of microlenses over an image sensor.[20] The camera software then uses this data to determine the general directions of incoming light rays.[21] Currently the images can be offloaded only on Apple computers and PCs running Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 8 64-bit.

Features of a plenoptic camera include:

One drawback is low resolution: Users will be able to convert Lytro camera's proprietary image into a regular JPEG file, at a desired focal plane. The resulting image has 1080 × 1080 pixels – roughly 1.2 megapixels, and only 0.78 megapixels for a traditional 4x6 print.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lytro Company Fact Sheet". Lytro. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Fried, Ina. "Meet the Stealthy Start-Up That Aims to Sharpen Focus of Entire Camera Industry". All Things Digital. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  3. ^ A Start-Up's Camera Lets You Take Shots First and Focus Later Steve Lohr, New York Times, 2011 June 21
  4. ^ Azevedo, Mary Ann (1 July 2011). "Lytro Inc. focused on its light field camera technology". San Jose Business Journal. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Andrew Couts, Digital Trends. "Lytro: The camera that could change photography forever." June 22, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
  6. ^ Lacy, Sarah. "Lytro Launches to Transform Photography with $50M in Venture Funds (TCTV)". TechCrunch. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Lytro announces Light Field Camera". Digital Photography Review. October 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ Inside the Lytro by FRANK O’CONNELL, Business Day, New York Times, 2012 March 1
  9. ^ a b c d Diana Samuels, Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. "Lytro ships first cameras to lucky customers." Feb 29, 2012. Retrieved Apr 25, 2012.
  10. ^ Mary Ann Azevedo, Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. "AWARD – Consumer Technology: Lytro light camera lets users focus long after photos are shot." Feb 17, 2012. Retrieved Apr 25, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Bonnington, Christina (23 June 2011). "Ren Ng Shares His Photographic Vision: Shoot Now, Focus Later". WIRED. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Geron, Tomio (21 June 2011). "Shoot First, Focus Later With Lytro's New Camera Tech". Forbes. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  13. ^ a b "About Us". Lytro. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  14. ^ Lance Whitney, CNET. "Steve Jobs wanted to reinvent iPhone photography, says book." January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  15. ^ Ned Potter, ABC News. "Lytro Light-Field Camera: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later." December 20, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  16. ^ Dante Cesa, Engadget. "Lytro introduces world's first light field camera: f/2 lens, $399, ships early 2012." Oct 19, 2011. Retrieved Apr 20, 2012.
  17. ^ John Bradley, Wired. "Focus on the Future." Feb 29, 2012. Retrieved Apr 20, 2012.
  18. ^ Ina Fried, AllThingsD. "Meet the Stealthy Start-Up That Aims to Sharpen Focus of Entire Camera Industry." Jun 21, 2011. Retrieved Apr 24, 2012.
  19. ^ Tomio Geron, Forbes. "Shoot First, Focus Later With Lytro's New Camera Tech." Jun 21, 2011. Retrieved Apr 24, 2012.
  20. ^ Coldewey, Devin. "Doubts About Lytro’s "Focus Later" Camera". TechCrunch. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  21. ^ Lars Rehm, DP Review. "CES 2012: Lytro Photowalk." Jan 13, 2012. Retrieved Apr 20, 2012.
  22. ^ José Manuel Rodríguez-Ramos (1 April 2011). "3D imaging and wavefront sensing with a plenoptic objective". SPIE. 
  23. ^ "Plenoptic lens arrays signal future?". TVB Europe. 23 September 2011. 
  24. ^ Goldman, Joshua. "Lytro camera: 5 things to know before you buy". CNET Editor. CNET. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]