Lytro Camera Technology Would Be Amazing Inside Smartphones [Video]


The folks at Lytro have been working on their light-based camera technology for a while now and it is nothing short of stunning. The technology captures images alongside the entire light field to enable post-capture focusing on any subject in a given picture.

Imagine being at a party and drunkenly snapping a photo of your friends. You probably forgot to check the focus and you get home disappointed to find out that your friends are out of focus.

With Lytro you can refocus on any part of the photo using their editing software, and you can do it as many times as you want. This sort of technology would especially be useful in smartphones and Lytro says they have considered the possibility of bringing the tech to smartphones. Says Lytro’s Charles Chi:

If we were to apply the technology in smartphones, that ecosystem is, of course, very complex, with some very large players there. It’s an industry that’s very different and driven based on operational excellence. For us to compete in there, we’d have to be a very different kind of company. So if we were to enter that space, it would definitely be through a partnership and a codevelopment of the technology, and ultimately some kind of licensing with the appropriate partner.

We’re not sure how OEMs would feel about partnering with Lytro but we can’t imagine that at least one isn’t keeping their eye on it. The interesting thing to see will be how they’ll get the technology into a compact package for the thin smartphones we’re seeing these days.

I reckon we wouldn’t see this technology in phones for quite a while if they ever do partner up with OEMs but we’re excited about the possibility of it all anyway. Watch some demo videos above and below. [PCWorld via Droid-Life]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I think my biggest question about this would be, if they could get it into a smartphone, would it speed up the picture taking process.  I would hope so because that would be amazing to be able to take a picture without waiting for the focus to get just right.  And I don’t know about you, but I hate having to take 3 different pictures, because the first two weren’t focused properly.  I would love it if this kind of technology came to smart phones! :-D

  2. What I want to know is it amazing software or hardware….will it be useable by existing smartphones (I don;t really think so, but really hoping) or does it require specific hardware (which I think, but am not sure about it)

    1. Requires specific hardware.  Specifically an array of lenses that sits in front of the image sensor.  You end up with an image that looks like what you’d imagine a fly’s view would be.  Using the overlapping image data from the various view points, the light field can be reconstructed and the image computed from the field.  It’s really fascinating stuff, I highly recommend reading Ng’s graduate work.  They’re fairly short reads and as long as you don’t get mired in the specifics of the math, it’s easy enough to understand.

      1. okay thanks

  3. Cameras do this already…Sony in particular has been pioneering this method of photography for a few years now in a lot of its cameras. The only difference is that the Sony cameras have an image processor which looks through all of the different focus fields (as well as HDR, hue, and other shots that it takes almost simultaneously) to compose the best image possible. It sounds like Lytro is doing the same thing, except letting you play around with it in between the shot and the final image.

    1. You should re-read what it is that Lytro does.  If you’re still convinced that Sony has been doing this for a few years, then you need to either go back to the future or try learning how cameras work.  Plenoptics as it applies to computational photography is relatively new even if the basic concepts have been around a while.  Lytro’s camera is going to be the first consumer price level camera that does this kind of thing.

      *edit* after re-reading those first two sentences I realize I may be coming off a bit snobby. That’s not my intention, it just bugs me a little when people are unimpressed with light field photography.

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