Lytro has revealed plans to pull out of the consumer photography market, just four years after it launched a camera touted as marking the most significant shift in photography since the digital revolution.
The company plans to focus its Light Field technology on the virtual reality (VR) market.
The first Lytro Light Field camera, launched in 2012, was unlike conventional cameras, in that it captured all the rays of light in a scene and was designed to enable the user to focus after a picture was taken.
At the time, the US company claimed it was the only consumer camera that allowed people to instantly capture a scene just as they see it, by recording a fundamentally richer set of data than ever before.
However, in a recent blog post Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal said the firm has switched strategy on consumer cameras, saying it needs to ‘drastically change direction’.
Rosenthal, who joined Lytro in 2013, added: ‘We’d already built two generations of consumer Light Field cameras and were deep into development on our third and fourth generation models. But I was increasingly filled with doubt about our product strategy and direction. Were consumer cameras really our biggest and best opportunity? If not, what should we be focused on instead? Could we pivot dramatically with so much invested in our current direction?’
He continued: ‘Lytro initially gained attention for the ability to refocus pictures after the fact, but the implications of Light Field technology run far deeper … As my doubts about our product direction grew, we started to hear from a growing chorus of Virtual Reality companies and Hollywood studios that they were looking for a Light Field powered solution to help them realise their creative vision for cinematic VR and next generation content.’
‘The more I looked at the needs of this market, the more convinced I became that we had something unique to offer.’
‘We had just raised $50MM [£35 million] in new capital. We didn’t have the resources to both continue building consumer products and invest in VR, so I knew I was going to have to pick.’
‘This realisation made me sick to my stomach since we had built an entire team and company focused on the consumer.’