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posted by martyb on Wednesday March 21 2018, @07:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the shade-of-its-former-self dept.

Google is reportedly acquiring Lytro, a company that made light field cameras and hoped to pivot to virtual reality video capture. Google appears to have gotten a good (or at least cheap) deal:

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.

Also at 9to5Google and Engadget.

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

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by AnonTechie on Wednesday March 21 2018, @08:02PM (6 children)

    by AnonTechie (2275) on Wednesday March 21 2018, @08:02PM (#656308) Journal

    This goes to show that it takes a lot more than just money, to get a good idea from the drawing board to a commercially successful product.

    Albert Einstein - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
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  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by cocaine overdose on Wednesday March 21 2018, @08:16PM

    Is your signature ironic or intentional.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday March 21 2018, @09:06PM (2 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday March 21 2018, @09:06PM (#656339) Journal

    The dual camera smartphones that are coming out around now can create depth maps which should be able to mimic that ability to refocus images after they are taken.

    While some camera companies are still around and selling consumer-oriented digital cameras, people are more likely to have a smartphone on them at all times rather than a purpose-built camera. Being a relatively new entrant into the camera market is apparently worse than being yet another smartphone brand. Pivoting to VR capture cameras was a *potentially* good idea (still prone to abysmal failure) that came too late for the company. And now Google has sucked in a healthy serving of patents and employees for far less than it is usually willing to spend.

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    • (Score: 1) by milsorgen on Wednesday March 21 2018, @11:03PM (1 child)

      by milsorgen (6225) on Wednesday March 21 2018, @11:03PM (#656378)

      While some camera companies are still around and selling consumer-oriented digital cameras

      Dedicated camera, digital or otherwise won't be going anywhere. Look at Sonys return to the market over the last few years, growth in mirrorless cameras etc. Phones are for the people who 90% of the time would never have bought a camera to begin with.

      On the Oregon Coast, born and raised, On the beach is where I spent most of my days...
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21 2018, @10:43PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21 2018, @10:43PM (#656373)

    This may have been a good idea, but it didn't solve any problems that were pressing enough for consumers to pay that much more for so much less camera.

    Foveon also failed even though it was a much more useful technology, but in both cases they weren't good enough to compete with the other options. Lytro was particularly strange in that it was a weird form factor and a significantly lower resolution.

    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Thursday March 22 2018, @05:02AM

      by driverless (4770) on Thursday March 22 2018, @05:02AM (#656483)

      That was my feeling as well, I'm surprised Lytro is valued at anything above $0. It solves no identifiable problem beyond "what should I write my PhD thesis on?".