Jan 25 AT 1:12 PM Nick Gray 28 Comments

Lytro’s Light Field technology may one day be featured on Android phones

lytro_android

It’s no secret that consumers are enamored with the cameras on their smartphones. Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony and countless other smartphone manufacturers are investing millions of dollars to improve their camera technology, and we’re seen quite a few articles across the web that try to pinpoint the very best camera phone.

Knowing that the public cares a lot about smartphone cameras, Charles Chi, Executive Chairman of Lytro, has revealed that the company may be interested in incorporating its new camera technology into smartphones. In order to gain a strong foothold in the smartphone market, Lytro would be looking at licensing agreements that would give interested smartphone manufacturers permission to use the technology on their devices. Charles Chi poits out that:

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.Charles ChiLytro

For now, it does not look like Lytro has a plan in place to partner with smartphone makers. When Lytro does finally make its move, we suspect manufacturers producing Android phones will be among the first to license Lytro’s camera technology. Companies like Sony and Samsung have a long history of developing their own camera technology, so we suspect players like HTC and Motorola would be among those interested in incorporating Lytro’s unique Light Field capture system into Android powered phones.

We know most people have not had the chance to use a Lytro camera yet, but would you be willing to pay a little extra for a smartphone if it featured Lytro Light Field technology?

Source: PC World

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • Deter

    I’ve not had a chance to use a Lytro camera. What is the advantage? My major problem with smartphone cameras is that with such a small lens being required even 8MP cameras aren’t producing drastically different pictures compared to1.3mp or 3mp cameras on other phones.

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

      In layman’s terms, you don’t have to worry about focusing any more. Shaky hands, however, will still reward you with a blurry photo.

  • Owain

    The lower-res captures and the social aspect of this makes it perfect for ‘phones… though maybe as a second camera, we’ll still want sexy 12mp pic’s every now and then,

  • oddball

    That is absolutely the most impressive bit of tech I have seen in a long time and I want one. In fact I would probably be willing to pay full retail for a phone that actually allowed me to stop carrying an extra camera around.

    • lancaster09

      I completely agree this is amazing technology!!!

  • spazby

    This is great.

  • perlowin

    Lytro’s CEO Ren Ng met with Steve Jobs, so Apple may be interested in this tech as well. Let’s all hope that they don’t buy the patent!!!

  • The Truth Squad

    Steve Jobs wasn’t interested in buying it, he was interested in stealing it.
    He met with Xexox and look how that turned out for Xerox.

  • dpleus

    Nothing worse than pulling out your phone to snap a quick picture of something in process, only to find out the camera didn’t focus correctly and you missed the shot. This would definitely be a major benefit to camera phone users. Combine this with Sony’s new stacked sensor array, and we are looking at the next tech leap in phones not being so much about the CPUs and the Screens, but more about how well they function as a phone. Manufacturers are already looking at this. I believe it was Polaroid at CES that showed off an Android based Camera Phone with full optical zoom and a higher quality camera setup, even though from quick looks posted on the web, it’s a better camera than a phone.

  • winks

    Ya know the first time I saw this technology I thought it was just astonishing. But the more I thought about it the less I am impressed with it. Essentially you are taking a multi-leveled picture, not just one. So in essence you are taking a picture at every focal length and then smashing them together into 1. Then the next trick is applying normal camera autofocus tech to the smashed photo to select the slide that is focused at the distance you want.

    It LOOKS amazing cuz its a still frame that seems to be focusing for you. In reality its just selecting an already focused slide from the group. Taking the picture is little more than burst mode and a moving focal length

    Or at least thats how I understand the tech to work,…..could be wrong.

    • Owain

      It actually takes multiple pictures from various focal lengths at the same time by having lenses on the pixels that record at a different focal length, this has the side effect of dividing the final resolution of any given ‘frame’ by the number of lengths recorded, thus you have significantly lower resolution photos.

      • Steve Edwards

        Apparently each pixel has 1 extra piece of information, directionality. Focusing involves filtering on the light rays that that came from the same direction. Steve

    • Vance

      You are wrong in deed. It isn’t taking multiple shots of the same image and stacking them… even with the fastest burst rate in the best lighting no two “slides” would be 100% identical. Instead what this technology does is lets in all the light in the field instantly, thus eliminating traditional “depth of field” in photography and giving you freedom in post processing to identify a focus point and let the software determine the depth of field.
      It’s not just new technology, it’s a completely new paradigm in photography, and I, for one, am intrigued and excited. I would pay $100 more for a phone with this technology as I believe it would replace my point and shoot as the back-up to my D-SLR and that is very valuable to me personally.

      • Dikembe

        The major problem is that you effectively divide the lens up for each focus level. your 12mp camera just became the equivalent 1mp.

        You’d miss the sharpness and quality of even a standard point and shoot.

  • Me

    You are wrong.

    • Vance

      Not sure how that posted… :/ weird..

  • Owain

    Check out the video at the end of this article… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15383516 Explains the technology really well + downsides etc.

  • aryin

    would be a great plus !!!

  • Nathan D.

    This sounds like a cool plus for Android when ever it is produces for android anyway. The whole shot now focus later thing can come in real handy.

  • professandobey

    This is something I was really excited about when I first heard about it, but now I feel it’s more of a gimmick in it’s current form. I even tried to convince my wife that we should preorder one of these.

    There’s two main problems I see with this.
    First, it will be incredibly hard for this to scale down to phone sizes, so don’t expect this to arrive anytime soon. Look at how long the camera is. This is because in order to achieve this

    • professandobey

      Sorry. Accidentally clicked “Post Comment” as it’s right above my keyboard and below the text box.

      …in order to achieve this they have to put a seperate sensor array in front of the sensor to catch the direction of the light in 3 dimensions.

      Next, this takes away the artistic aspect of taking pictures. One of the biggest factors in a photograph is how you focus the shot. Of course, people that care about this probably own DSLRs, but my family does enjoy the art of photography and we just own a point and shoot. I think Sony’s new sensor represents an equally exciting prospect for phones.

      That said, I’m still really jazzed about Lytro. This tech enables taking 3D pictures without having to double the number of cameras due to capturing the light in 3 dimensions. With lots of refinement, I predict cameras based on this tech will be commonplace in 3 to 5 years.

      PS. please add an option to require a confirmation click before posting a comment so that those who wish can read over and finalize their comment before posting.

  • lokidokie

    I would be interested. Yes.

  • h0ruza

    The size needs to be reduced but yes this could be the answer to many camera phone issues.

    One thing has me scratching my head though, the biggest issue with the camera’s in phones is the size and quality of the lens.

    Won’t that ultimately affect this process as well?

  • theluck

    wow, i hope this will be the standard on my phone in a couple of years.

  • smeghead68

    Never played with that camera yet but something like that would be great on the phone. With a phone you just want a quick picture and it sucks when that doesn’t turn out.

  • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

    ZING!

  • Anthony E.

    Bartender, plus-ones all around!!