Silicone Valley start-up called Lytro have launched with $50million in funding with technology that I would describe as magic if they didn’t explain the science behind their impressive idea on their website.
[quote_right] “I remember trying to take photos of the five-year-old daughter of a close friend, but because she was so full of life, it was nearly impossible to capture the fleeting moments of her smile or perfectly focus the light in her eyes.” – Ren Ng – Founder and CEO of Lytro [/quote_right]
Lytro are designing a camera that could possibly change the way we take photographs and is being predicted to be the next giant leap in the evolution of photograhy. Their mission is to develop a consumer camera that takes “living pictures” where the focus can be shifted after the photograph has been taken. “The key innovation is “light field” technology, which captures all of the light rays in a scene to create interactive, living pictures. Light field innovation enables unprecedented capabilities, including the ability to focus after a picture is taken, remarkable low-light sensitivity, and 3D viewing.”
The light field is a core concept in imaging science that has been extensively researched for more than a century in academic environments. The light field is defined as all of the light traveling in every direction through a scene, from the foreground to the background and everything in between.
Until recently, light field cameras involved a roomful of hundreds of cameras tethered to a series of computers in a lab. Dr. Ng has dedicated more than six years to researching this science to bring the technology out of the lab and make it available for everyone.
Some of the things Lytro cameras will be able to do include:
Shoot now, focus later. People will no longer be delayed by having to focus their camera or be disappointed when a picture turns out irreparably out-of-focus. Lytro pictures can be flawlessly focused to their liking – days, weeks, even years after they’re taken.
Unparalleled speed. Since the camera doesn’t focus before a photo is taken, people will no longer miss important moments due to autofocus shutter lag.
Living pictures. Lytro creates pictures that both the photographer and viewer can interact with when shared online on blogs, photo sharing sites, their favorite social media networks, etc. They can focus the foreground, background or the entire image simply by clicking on an area of detail. No software download is required.
Low-light sensitivity. By using all of the available light in a scene, light field cameras can capture better pictures in remarkably low light environments without use of a flash.
Immersive 3D. Using the full light field, Lytro cameras will allow people to easily switch between 2D and 3D views or shift the perspective of the scene
Still unsure what Light Field Technology is about? Here’s a handy video…and yes there’s a cute doggy in it…
If you can’t wait to try it out, there are some example images below. Try clicking on a different part of the photo to refocus it.