Mountain View, CA – June 2011- Lytro, Inc. (www.lytro.com) announced today that it is developing a “light field” camera for consumers that will forever change the way people take and experience pictures. Later this year, Lytro will start selling light field cameras that can capture all of the light rays in a scene to offer photographic capabilities never before possible, such as focusing a picture after it’s taken. Lytro cameras will also create interactive, living pictures that can be endlessly focused and refocused by both the photographer and the viewer, bringing new creative possibilities to photography. In 2010, consumers worldwide spent more than $38 billion on cameras.
Introducing Camera 3.0
Lytro’s light field camera represents the most significant shift in photography since the transition from film to digital in 1988. The light field fully defines how a scene appears, from the foreground to the background and everything in between. Unlike conventional cameras, which can only record a scene in two dimensions, light field cameras can capture all of the light traveling in every direction through a scene in four dimensions. A light field picture taken with a Lytro camera can be manipulated after the fact in ways not possible with editing software.
Light field cameras capture fundamentally more powerful data than possible in regular photographs. To record this additional data, Lytro cameras will feature an innovative new light field sensor that captures the color, intensity and direction of every light ray. Powerful software within the camera then processes the picture into a light field picture file that anyone can interact with, without needing special software.
“This is the next big evolution of the camera,” said CEO and Founder Dr. Ren Ng. “The move from film to digital was extraordinary and opened up picture taking to a much larger audience. Lytro is introducing Camera 3.0, a breakthrough that lets you nail your shot every time and never miss a moment. Now you can snap once and focus later to get the perfect picture.”
Turning Light into Living Pictures
Lytro camera capabilities will include:
Shoot now, focus later. People will no longer be disappointed by a picture that turns out focused on the wrong subject, such as the wall instead of a child’s smile. Lytro pictures can be flawlessly focused to one’s 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 the conventional delay of the lens autofocusing as you press the shutter button.
Living pictures. Lytro creates interactive, living pictures that will engage and delight those who experience them online via social media networks, mobile phones, blogs, etc. Viewers can immerse themselves in a living picture to discover and focus in on new details by simply clicking on different parts of a picture. 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 provide an immersive 3D picture that goes beyond the conventional stereo 3D by, for example, controlling the perspective view of a scene.
“Lytro’s breakthrough technology will make conventional digital cameras obsolete. It has to be seen to be believed,” said investor Marc Andreessen, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
“Humans have a deep desire to capture the experience of their lives and share it visually with others,” said Emmy-award winning multimedia journalist Richard Koci Hernandez. “From early man’s cave paintings more than 30,000 years ago to the first people posing for daguerreotype photos wearing iron collars to stay still in the 1800s, humans have gone to great lengths to tell visual stories. Light field cameras are the next step in that picture revolution.”
Out of the Lab, Into Your Pocket
Light field science and computational photography have been extensively researched for more than a century in academic environments. Light field science was the subject of Dr. Ng’s PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford, which was awarded the internationally-recognized ACM Dissertation Award in 2007. Dr. Ng’s research focused on miniaturizing a roomful of a hundred cameras plugged in to a supercomputer in a lab. In 2011, the Lytro team will complete the job of taking light fields out of the lab and making them available in the form of a consumer light field camera.
The digital still camera market is large and growing with $38.3 billion in worldwide revenue in 2010 and expectations to increase to $43.5 billion worldwide by 2015.* Visual storytelling is universal, with 60 billion photos shared on Facebook in 2010, projected to reach 100 billion photos by this summer.
Lytro has raised approximately $50 million to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, NEA and K9 Ventures, along with individual investors. K9 Ventures provided initial money to Dr. Ng and Greylock Partners seeded Lytro. NEA led the Series B round in 2010 and Andreessen Horowitz recently led its Series C, which raised $37.6 million for Lytro’s push into consumer markets this year. Board members include Mike Ramsay, consumer products pioneer and TiVo co-founder; Ben Horowitz, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz; and Patrick Chung, partner at NEA. Advisors to the company include two Nobel laureates, Stanford physics professor Douglas Osheroff and physicist Arno Penzias, as well as Intuit cofounder Scott Cook, VMware cofounder Diane Greene, Dolby Labs Chairman Peter Gotcher, and Sling Media cofounder Blake Krikorian. Lytro has assembled a world-class team of experts in areas that include engineering, design, computational photography, computer graphics, high volume manufacturing, high volume distribution, and consumer marketing.
The first Lytro camera will be available for purchase online later this year. For a demonstration of living pictures, visit the Lytro Picture Gallery www.lytro.com/picture_gallery. To reserve a camera, visit Lytro.com.
For additional commentary on Lytro’s innovations, visit Ben Horowitz’s blog: http://bhorowitz.com/2011/06/21/lytro-and-the-magic-camera/
Lytro is transforming the camera into a powerful computational photography platform and making conventional cameras a thing of the past. The company was founded in 2006 by CEO Ren Ng, whose PhD research on light field photography won Stanford’s prize for best thesis in computer science in 2006 as well as the internationally recognized ACM Dissertation award. For additional information, visit Lytro.com.
* “Digital Still Cameras: Devices, Features, Lenses, Sensors, and Semiconductors,” In-Stat (2011)