Around this time last year, light-field technology pioneer Lytro announced that it had just completed a $40 million round of funding that would allow them to apply their tech to other categories. They’re now making good on that promise with the launch of the first Lytro Developer Kit (LDK).
The dev kit, which includes a lens, sensor, image processing software and rendering software with a Python API, will allow third parties to integrate Lytro’s technology into their own applications and products.
Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal said it’s a whole programmable camera system in a Lego building block system.
Lytro first captured headlines more than three years ago with its revolutionary light-field technology that promised to allow users of its camera to snap photos and adjust the focus in post-processing. Its first camera did indeed deliver on that promise but its optics led to poor image quality while the user interface put it more in the category of a novelty item than a true photography tool. The company's second camera, the Illum, offered much improved supporting hardware but $1,600, it never really took off.
Lytro’s first four clients include NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, General Sensing, the Department of Defense’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate and an unnamed major industrial partner that develops products for government applications.
Unfortunately, the LDK isn’t something most developers will be able to afford at a rate of $20,000 each year. Lytro will, however, provide subscribers with the latest hardware and software as part of the annual fee.
It’ll no doubt be interesting to see what other companies can do with Lytro’s light-field technology. In the meantime, the company said it’s still a camera company at its core with the intent of changing traditional photography.