Light field technology startups and patents

Light field photography: Google is supposed to buy Lytro at a bargain price

According to a report by Techcrunch, which is based on statements from several sources, Google wants to acquire the light field startup Lytro, which initially developed cameras and software for end users, but then withdrew from this field to include light field technology in VR and professional video productions to use.

  1. Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians Hessen, Frankfurt
  2. via duerenhoff GmbH, Frankfurt am Main

According to the report, Google could pay less than $ 40 million for Lytro. It is possible that not all employees will be taken on. Some have already received severance payments or have already left the company of their own accord. Google could also be targeting Lytro's 59 patents in the field of light field photography and other imaging processes.

The sale would not be a success for Lytro and its donors. According to information from Techcrunch, more than $ 200 million in venture capital has been raised. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Foxconn, GV, Greylock, NEA and Qualcomm Ventures.

Lytro was founded in 2006 as Refocus Imaging by Ren Ng. Lytro initially developed two light field cameras. First, a model came on the market in a very unusual case. It looked like a small box with a lens on the front and a tiny 33mm diagonal touchscreen display. Later, the Illum model appeared as a bridge camera with a bright zoom lens.

That ended in April 2016. The range of light field cameras for private customers was discontinued and Lytro focused on developing a light field VR platform.

The subsequently developed Lytro Immerge is a 360-degree light field camera in the form of a sphere, which is divided into five segments. The camera records the entire light field around it. This means that it captures all light rays around it, color, intensity and the direction from which they come. This makes it possible to create a spherical panorama in front of a scene.

Now the name Lytro could disappear entirely. Google has attempted light field photography itself. A rotating bogie was recently shown equipped with gopros to capture more realistic VR images. For this purpose, a demo app was published on Steam that can be used free of charge with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality glasses.

Light field photography not only captures the light that hits the sensor directly through the lens of a camera. Rather, the direction of incident light rays is also stored. Due to the additional dimension, such recordings contain information about the depth of the image. This enables refocusing, i.e. the subsequent shifting of the focal plane. Alternatively, a 3D image can be created from the image material recorded with a light field camera. The head movement can be recorded and the camera position calculated using VR glasses. That should improve the realism.