Lytro plans to shed jobs as it shifts focus to video
Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal has announced that the company has raised an additional $50M in funding, but plans to use it to make a strategic shift into video and virtual reality, while shedding some jobs. Although the exact number of layoffs has yet to be decided, website re/code is reporting that between 25-50 of Lytro's 130-strong workforce may be made redundant as the company seeks to hire new employees with video and virtual reality experience.
Describing light-field as 'the perfect solution' for capturing imagery intended for use in virtual reality displays, Rosenthal told re/code that the company has not given up on the stills photography market, and plans a new third-generation light field camera in 2016, as well as more firmware updates to the Illum.
We think that the switch towards video and virtual reality makes perfect sense for Lytro. The potential of light-field is hard to explain to traditional stills-oriented photographers, and the relatively high price and limited resolution of the Illum meant that it was probably never going to be the 'breakthrough' product that the company badly needs. That's not to say we don't see the application in stills photography - controlling the plane or planes of focus, depth-of-field, simulating faster apertures, and using light field data for focus and optical aberration corrections are very cool concepts, even for stills photography. And we'd love to see an even larger sensor, higher resolution light field camera for stills in the future. It's that the Illum - understandably - had further to go before it convinced professional photographers to adopt it as a tool of choice.
The idea of controlling focus and depth of field post-capture is however very immediately attractive to professional filmmakers, where resolution requirements are typically less demanding (albeit perhaps only for now) and continuous focus difficult. Lytro's biggest challenge in this respect is probably data - specifically, how to find a way to process and record the enormous amount of data that would be contained in light-field video footage. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.