Techcrunch, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Techland, CNET and dozen other sources run articles on Lytro offering re-focus technology. This Youtube video shows how it works from a user perspective:
Lytro site hints how it works:
Light Field Capture
How does a light field camera capture the light rays?
Recording light fields requires an innovative, entirely new kind of sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.
"The Lytro camera captures far more light data, from many angles, than is possible with a conventional camera. It accomplishes that with a special sensor called a microlens array, which puts the equivalent of many lenses into a small space. “That is the heart of the breakthrough,” said Pat Hanrahan, a Stanford professor."
"A key to Lytro's strategy is to use the increasing resolution found in the image sensors in conventional digital cameras. The company developed a special array of lenses that fits in front of image sensors and helps break the image apart into individual rays, along with software to help reassemble and manipulate it.
Lytro lists other benefits. For one thing, since images are focused after the fact, users don't have to spend time focusing before shooting. Nor do they have to worry if they wound up focusing on the wrong thing.
The technology works in very low light without a flash, Lytro said, while 3-D glasses can add a particularly vivid effect—simulated three-dimensional images that users can adjust to show different perspectives."
Lytro founder and CEO, Ren Ng, 31 explained the concept in 2006 in his Ph.D. thesis at Stanford University, which won the worldwide competition for the best doctoral dissertation in computer science that year from the Association for Computing Machinery. Leading Lytro's technology team are Kurt Akeley, formerly of Silicon Graphics, and Adam Fineberg, formerly chief architect for the WebOS software developed by Palm, which is now part of HP.
So far Lytro has raised $50M from NEA, K9 Ventures, Greylock Partners and Andreessen Horowitz. Lytro isn't disclosing details before releasing its first cameras later this year, but Ng says their pricing will be competitive with today's consumer cameras. Ng gave 15-min long interview to TechCrunchTV:
WSJ points to possible Lytro's competition: "Adobe Systems Inc., which has developed prototype light field cameras for research purposes. Besides the technology departments of big camera companies, other startups are pursuing related technology... One is Pellican Imaging Corp., which in February announced a prototype of what it calls an array camera for use in mobile devices."
Update: PR Newswire: Sequence, a creative development agency based in San Francisco, announced that it is Lytro's branding and user-experience partner, and helped them with all aspects of their brand.
"Sequence has been a valuable partner," said Ren Ng, CEO and founder of Lytro. "They quickly understood the complexity and potential impact of our new technology and have helped us create a powerful yet simple brand experience that really resonates with our target audience."