The futuristic manufacturer of "light field" Lytro cameras is closing, according to a statement posted online. The company says that as of today, it will stop "taking on new productions and providing professional services," while preparing to "close" the company for an unspecified period of time. "We are excited to see what new opportunities the future brings for the Lytro team as we go our separate ways," the statement says. "We would like to thank the diverse communities that have supported us and we hope that our roads will cross in the future."
Lytro does not say what will happen to the patents of the company or its employees. TechCrunch reported last week that Google was acquiring Lytro, and a person familiar with the matter confirmed to The Verge that a large portion of former Lytro employees will join Google. But, contrary to last week's rumors, the person says that Google is not trying to complement its own light-field photo experiments with Lytro's technology. Apparently, the team will be distributed in several divisions and will not continue Lytro's previous camera work. Google is acquiring some Lytro assets, but without direct plans to integrate them into existing projects.
TechCrunch reported that Lytro was selling between $ 25 and $ 40 million, but this person characterized the move of Google as a contract of contract rather than an acquisition of the company, and did not confirm any price. Google rejected a request for comment.
Lytro employees are not supposed to continue their old job at Google
Lytro has struggled for years to build a viable business with its innovative camera technology, which captures an image at multiple depths. In 2012, he launched an experimental consumer camera that allows users to reorient the images after the fact, and then followed with a $ 1,599 camera for professional photographers in 2014. But a year later, he dismissed a significant portion of his force from He worked and moved to the world of virtual reality, saying that competing directly with established camera companies had been a mistake. Eventually, he even eliminated the accommodation of images for the old "living images" of Lytro, erasing much of his initial legacy.
The company was reinvented in 2015 with a 360 degree camera platform called Lytro Immerge. The Immerge recorded a volumetric video where the spectators could move in 3D space, although only slightly. The camera was also extremely niche: it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and required learning the meticulous art of 360-degree cinematography. Although many filmmakers are working with virtual reality, it is still a small industry, and occasional enthusiasts can get a much cheaper 360 degree platform elsewhere.
Lytro has remained in motion last year, acquiring the animation company VR Limitless and producing a second version of Immerge. It closed an investment round of $ 60 million at the beginning of 2017, for a total of $ 210 million in funds. But the entire VR entertainment industry is working on a difficult patch, and it's not surprising that a VR camera company with a history of rock product launches may have trouble staying afloat. With companies like Google experimenting with lightweight fields, Lytro's core idea will remain alive, but the company may have faced a battle it could not win.
The complete Lytro statement is below:
At Lytro, we believe that Light Field will continue to shape the course of Virtual and Augmented Reality, and we are incredibly proud of the role we have been able to play to overcome the limits of what is possible. We discovered challenges that we had never dreamed of and made progress at a seemingly impossible pace. We have had some spectacular successes and we have built complete systems that nobody thought possible. More importantly, we created a team uniquely unified in its approach and unrivaled in its dedication. It has been an honor and a pleasure to contribute to the film and virtual reality communities, but as of today we will not take on new productions or provide professional services while preparing to close the company. We are excited to see what new opportunities the future brings for the Lytro team as we go our separate ways. We would like to thank the diverse communities that have supported us and we hope that our roads will cross in the future.