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Lytro MD Interview: Lytro Are Licensing The Technology To Other Companies

ePHOTOzine spoke to Managing Director Sandro Fulgheri of Lytro to learn more about their latest update, who they're licensing the technology to and what their 50 million dollar investment has done for the company.

| Lytro Illum in General Photography

Recently, ePHOTOzine sat down with the MD of Lytro, Sandro Fulgheri, to discuss Lytro's latest updates and to find out what's in the pipeline for this rather unique piece of technology. 


Lytro MD Interview: Lytro Are Licensing The Technology To Other Companies: Lytro Illum (8)


Can you tell us about the new updates to the Lytro Illum?

"Since the Lytro Illum was released there have been 16 updates. Lytro listens to customer’s feedback and have some very clever people working on what the software can do. The first update for the Lytro Illum made the camera 20percent faster, with the last update making the camera 40percent faster. The Lytro Illum is basically a smartphone with a powerful processor so it can be reprogrammed. In the most recent updates we have improved Image quality – it is sharper by 35% - and whilst the pixel output remains the same, we have developed better image processing algorithms."


Lytro MD Interview: Lytro Are Licensing The Technology To Other Companies: MD of Lytro, Sandro FulgheriCan you tell us a little bit more about the most recent update announced today? 

"This update lets you adjust the aperture on the back of the camera in playback mode with a two-finger gesture. By simply creating a twisting motion, the results of the effect are displayed instantly. For example, going from f/1 to f/16.

You can also view images in full-screen mode in playback, whereas previously there were always icons running on the right-hand-side of the touch-screen.

The updated desktop software gives quicker integration into Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom with a new plugin in the desktop software. It was possible previously, but it had to be done on a layer by layer level which made it more time consuming and difficult."


Lytro were recently in the news regarding the company, and investment being made into the company, can you tell us more about this?

"There was a 50 million dollar investment made recently to increase the scope of work done at Lytro to also include a move into virtual reality and video work. Although this is not at the consumer product level, we're expecting to be able to make an announcement about this next year, in 2016."


Are Lytro working with other companies to get the technology into other products?

Lytro are licensing the technology to companies who want to develop their own technology and products. One company and application I can tell you about is the Ministry of Defense in the USA – who are working on using the Lytro technology in night vision goggles due to the depth visible being poor on traditional night vision goggles. By using Lytro technology, they are able to make Goggles 60perc lighter and also produce much clearer view with a greater depth of focus.

Lytro is currently working with 60 companies and anything with a lens can use this (Lightfield / Lytro) technology. 


Lytro MD Interview: Lytro Are Licensing The Technology To Other Companies: Lytro Illum (3)

Is there potential for improving the image quality output of current products, such as the Lytro Illum?

"The Lytro Illum produces stills images that are around 4.5megapixels – and while it may not be possible to improve the resolution output of the current Illum, there is great potential for future resolution increases in future products. Although, the level of data captured by the light field technology means that you need very quick data processing due to the high volumes of data."


Do you have examples of photographers using the Lytro Illum to produce outstanding work? When the Illum was first announced, there were a number of photographers showing work for example?

"We started off working with wedding and portrait photographers and there has been some great content produced, but unfortunately we can't share the work due to brands owning the copyright on these photos. We do, however, have some examples taken for Victoria's Secret which were shared on our Facebook page." 


Where does the Lytro Illum fit in the market? Will there ever be a mirrorless Lytro camera, or a mirrorless camera with a Lytro sensor?

"The Lytro Illum camera is aimed at the professional market; however future generations may be more accessible to the consumer. The Lytro sensor needs a lot of light so, in theory, it could be used in a mirrorless camera but to get the best you need the bright f/1.4-3 lenses."


Lytro MD Interview: Lytro Are Licensing The Technology To Other Companies: Lytro Illum (4)


Presumably the Lytro technology is patented?

"There are patents on both the hardware and software developed by Lytro. There is an incredibly smart team working at Lytro, the company is based right next door to Google in Silicon Valley. LinkedIn voted Lytro as where everyone wanted to work in Silicon Valley, above Google and Facebook, so it is a great place to work." 

To keep up to date with all the latest news from Lytro, visit the Lytro website

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MichaelMelb_AU Avatar
MichaelMelb_AU 10 1.9k Australia
9 Jul 2015 11:37AM
Interesting interview. Special applications of this technology can really mean a breakthrough in image/video technology. However, that does not sell the product to me, at least not on current level of development. Seriously expensive camera to produce 4,5 Mp image? I bought some 8 y.o. 4Mp 10x zoom f2.8 Olympus for 10$ from opportunity shop. The final product (flat image on monitor or 4x6" print) is basically the same - and still excellent. So why?
mikesavage Avatar
mikesavage 21 299 2 England
11 Jul 2015 4:46PM
Licensing the technology was the only sensible thing to do from the outset.

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