Lytro has announced that it will stop making light-field cameras for consumers in order to focus on professional solutions for the virtual reality industry.
Digital industry fans have been expecting this announcement since fall 2015: Lytro has finally made it official that it will stop developing and releasing consumer-related light-field cameras, which capture photos that can be refocused.
CEO Jason Rosenthal is the one who confirmed that the company will shift its focus in another direction, just like its cameras, through a lengthy blog post. The CEO explains the decision, while also confirming what to expect from Lytro in the near future: more virtual reality products.
Lytro shift focus from consumer light-field cameras to virtual reality devices
The consumer imaging business is no longer of interest to Lytro and there are plenty of good reasons for that. First of all, is the “rise of the smartphones” and we have heard this many times.
People are more and more satisfied by the image quality of smartphones and what you can do with photos using applications available in the store, so they see little need of purchasing a dedicated camera, especially niche products, such as the Lytro light-field cameras.
CEO Jason Rosenthal says that the decision has not come lightly, but in early 2015 he was becoming aware that the company will not be able to develop consumer-related products and devices for another segment.
Virtual reality companies and plenty of studios in Hollywood were demanding light-field cameras in order to use them for cinematic purposes. As a result, Lytro used its newly-raised $50 million capital to develop a professional VR device.
It is called Immerge and it was announced in November 2015. The products consists of a video camera that shoots 360-degree light-field movies. In VR, people can use it to experience the same thing from multiple perspectives. Users can also change the focus and the depth of field, so it paves the way for professional-grade cinematic VR.
As a result, the Illum, announced in spring 2014, is the last Lytro-branded light-field camera. It comes packed with a 40-megaray image sensor and a 30-250mm (full-frame equivalent) zoom lens with maximum aperture of f/2.
Lots of people will be disheartened upon hearing the news, but if they check out the entire blog post
Virtual reality is certainly here to say and you cannot have it without digital imaging devices. This is why we are excited to see what the future holds for us and how Lytro will make it better!