from the shade-of-its-former-self dept.
Multiple sources tell us that Google is acquiring Lytro, the imaging startup that began as a ground-breaking camera company for consumers before pivoting to use its depth-data, light-field technology in VR.
One source described the deal as an "asset sale" with Lytro going for no more than $40 million. Another source said the price was even lower: $25 million. A third source tells us that not all employees are coming over with the company's technology: some have already received severance and parted ways with the company, and others have simply left. Assets would presumably also include Lytro's 59 patents related to light-field and other digital imaging technology.
The sale would be far from a big win for Lytro and its backers. The startup has raised just over $200 million in funding and was valued at around $360 million after its last round in 2017, according to data from PitchBook.
Despite a lot of hype, Lytro had little success with its expensive, ergonomically challenged, and low resolution light field cameras for consumers.
Related: LinkedIn's Top 10 Silicon Valley Startups for 'Talent Brand' - Note: Both Lytro and Theranos are on the list.
A Pocket Camera with Many Eyes - Inside the Development of Light
LinkedIn has published its third annual list of the top ten startups (fewer than 500 employees) in Silicon Valley most attractive to IT professionals, based on analysis of views and follows of company Linkedin pages, and pages of company employees, made by site members residing in the USA or Canada during the past year.
This year's top ten were Lytro (plenoptic cameras), Theranos (fingerstick blood tests), Fitbit (wearable fitness trackers), Coursera (online learning), Minted (greeting cards and wedding invitations), Wealthfront (investment management for individuals), Bromium (hypervisor-based security software), Twilio (cloud-based telephony), Egnyte (enterprise file storage), and Leap Motion (gesture user interface).
fyamuse: the LinkedIn blogger coaxed the honorees to choose theme songs, each of which are linked in TFA to YouTube videos.
Only one of the top ten (Coursera) was a repeat from last year's list. So what happened to the others? The answer is pretty impressive: three of the ten went public, while six others now have valuations between 1 and 10 billion USD.
The creator of the new Light digital camera explains how he made it work:
The best digital cameras today are SLRs (single-lens reflex cameras), which use a movable mirror to guide the same light rays that fall on the sensor into the viewfinder. These cameras normally have precisely ground glass lenses and large, high-quality image sensors. In the right hands, they can shoot amazing pictures, with brilliant colours and pleasing lighting effects, often showing a crisply focused subject and an aesthetically blurred background.
But these cameras are big, heavy, and expensive: A good digital SLR (DSLR) with a decent set of lenses—including a standard 50 mm, a wide angle, and a telephoto, for example—can easily set you back thousands of dollars.
So most photos today aren't being shot with DSLRs but with the tiny camera modules built into mobile phones. Nobody pretends these pictures match the quality of a photograph taken by a good DSLR; they tend to be grainy, and the camera allows very little artistic control. But smartphone cameras certainly are easy to carry around.
Can't we have it both ways ? Couldn't a high-quality yet still-tiny camera somehow be fit into a mobile device ?
The Light camera starts with a collection of inexpensive plastic-lens camera modules and mechanically driven mirrors. We put them in a device that runs the standard Android operating system along with some smart algorithms. The result is a camera that can do just about everything a DSLR can—and one thing it can't: fit in your pocket.
The black turtleneck-wearing founder of Theranos has been accused of swindling investors out of $700 million for blood-testing technology that amounted to smoke and mirrors. However, Elizabeth Holmes will only have to pay a $500,000 fine and surrender millions of worthless shares:
[...] Securities and Exchange Commission today brought fraud charges against Holmes, Theranos and its former president, Sunny Balwani, and its complaint alleges pretty strongly that the investors were just as bamboozled as everybody else. In fact, Theranos made direct use of its positive press to raise money: It "sent investors a binder of background materials," which included "articles and profiles about Theranos, including the 2013 and 2014 articles from The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Fortune that were written after Holmes provided them with interviews" and that included her misleading claims about the state of Theranos's technology. She also repeated those claims to investors directly: "For instance, Holmes and Balwani told one investor that Theranos' proprietary analyzer could process over 1,000 Current Procedural Terminology ('CPT') codes and that Theranos had developed a technological solution for an additional 300 CPT codes," even though "Theranos' analyzers never performed comprehensive testing or processed 1,000 CPT codes in its clinical lab," and in fact never processed more than 12 tests on its TSPU. And Theranos would even do a little pantomime blood-draw demonstration directly on the investors:
This initial meeting was often followed by a purported demonstration of Theranos' proprietary analyzers, the TSPU, and the miniLab. In several instances, potential investors would be taken by Holmes and Balwani to a different room to view Theranos' desktop computer-like analyzers. A phlebotomist would arrive to draw their blood through fingerstick, using a nanotainer, a Theranos-developed collection device. Then the sample was either inserted into the TSPU or taken away for processing. Based on what they saw, potential investors believed that Theranos had tested their blood on either an earlier-generation TSPU or the miniLab. As Holmes knew, or was reckless in not knowing, however, Theranos often actually tested their blood on third-party analyzers, because Theranos could not conduct all of the tests it offered prospective investors on its proprietary analyzers.
Xiaomi and Light, a computational imaging firm, have announced at Mobile World Congress that the two companies will be working together to develop new multi-module cameras for smartphones. The two companies promised that the jointly-developed cameras will feature DSLR-level capabilities, but did not disclose when the first product from the joint project is expected to come to fruition.
Light specializes on computational imaging solutions using multiple camera arrays. The company has gone so far as to develop their own chip that can work with 6, 12, or 18-camera arrays. And while Xiaomi and Light aren't specifying just how big of a camera array they're looking to develop, we're likely looking at something in the lower-bounds of those number, if only due to the limited size of smartphones. For reference's sake, a 6-module camera would be very similar to what Nokia has done for their Nokia 9 PureView.
Cover the entire back of a smartphone with cameras, then gingerly hold it using the corners.
Related: Meta-Lens Works in the Visible Spectrum, Sees Smaller Than a Wavelength of Light
A Pocket Camera with Many Eyes - Inside the Development of Light
Caltech Replaces Lenses With Ultra-Thin Optical Phased Array
Nokia (HMD Global) Partners with Zeiss for Optics Capabilities
Google Reportedly Acquires Lytro, Which Made Refocusable Light Field Cameras
LG's V40 Smartphone Could Include Five Cameras
Leaked Image Shows Nokia-Branded Smartphone With Five Rear Cameras