Steve Jobs rumored to have explored Lytro light-field camera company as part of his plan to re-invent photography

According to Adam Lashinsky, author of the upcoming book, Inside Apple, the late Steve Jobs arranged a meeting with Ren Ng, a Stanford graduate and the CEO of the incredible Lytro light-field camera company.

The company’s CEO, Ren Ng, a brilliant computer scientist with a PhD from Stanford, immediately called Jobs, who picked up the phone and quickly said, “if you’re free this afternoon maybe we would could get together.” Ng, who is thirty-two, hurried to Palo Alto, showed Jobs a demo of Lytro’s technology, discussed cameras and product design with him, and, at Jobs’s request, agreed to send him an email outlining three things he’d like Lytro to do with Apple.

Lytro, if you've not heard of them, uses radical new imaging technology that involves capturing the entire light field into one single file. Edits can then be made post-production, including refocusing the image or any portion of it.

Given the nature of their technology and how it works, it all seems like something Steve Jobs would have been interested in, especially when you consider the amount of attention Apple gave to how the iPhone 4S camera worked.

According to Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs had three things he wanted to reinvent - the television, textbooks and photography. We've bared witness to the beginning of one of those things at Apple's education event with the introduction of iBooks 2 and  iBooks Author for Mac OS X. And Apple Television has been rumored for a while now.

One could argue that Steve Jobs and Apple have already changed the photography world with each iteration of the iPhone, as the cameras got better with each new release. The the iPhone 4S has an 8 megapixel camera equipped with a fast f/2.4 lens, and is certainly capable of taking great shots and that photo taking ability has caused some folks to drop their point & shoot cameras and strictly use their iPhone for shots as needed.

Could we see a portion of Lytro's camera technology in the some iteration of the iPhone and possibly even the iPad? It's quite possible - but we'll have to hold on for that. One meeting does not a next-generation iPhone 5 camera make.

Source: 9to5Mac

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

  • "beared" not "bared" 8-)
  • "Steve Jobs rumored to be alien who has returned to his home planet in the Andromeda galaxy. He did, however, deny the validity of Tom Cruise and his pretentiously absurd Scientology before he left earth."
  • Steve Jobs changed the photography world? That would be very hard to argue.
    Were not iPhones once known for their terrible cameras, when companies like Nokia were using 5MP cameras left and right?
    Why should we now give Apple the credit of transforming photography, when in 2006 the Nokia N95 was already taking gorgeous pictures with Carl Zeiss lens and a 5MP sensor? Care to compare N95 pics with the original iPhone, or with the next two generations of iPhones for that matter? Heck, the N95 could give the iPhone 4 a run for its money, and it is four years older.
    Apple joined the mobile photography game late, and improved it, but it most defenitely did not change or reinvent it.
  • I admittedly have never used an N95, but I have used an F5, D1 and D300. Did the N95 have the touchscreen/gesture interaction that the iPhone does? Both can probably email a photo. But its the removal of all the buttons, dpads and dials and the intuitive interface that I think is where the reinvention happened.
    Sure, I don't use it for everything. But I don't feel like I need to leave my Nikon in the car all the time 'just in case.' :)
  • The pictures taken by the N95 failed because the software is crappy. I know because I owned one.
  • As a professional photographer, I am completely blown away by the technology of the Lytro. Also as a professional, I do feel the opposition of people becoming faux-tographers. With technology and how it has changed the photography industry, it does make it harder for professionals to not just stand out from the ones that are not actually professionals, but it is also makes things more difficult to gain customers due to camera's (and phones) now being able to make it so ANYONE can take a good shot. IE: At weddings, a large group will get together for a family photo and while I am adjusting my settings, Aunt Susie walks up with her Coolpix and snaps the shot with good lighting and everyone in focus. Obviously there are many limitations to iPhoneography and point-and-shoot's and so many thing's they cannot do, compared to an SLR, but regardless, it is killing the photography industry. I love what I do and will continue to keep doing what I know how to do best and continue to fight through this over saturated market of over-night-photographers.
  • Respect brother i support you one hundred percent man
  • Your expertise will still be needed for the composition, which is the essence of photography anyway. Aunt Susie still probably crops the heads of her subjects in the center of the picture.
    I think it is a good development that photography is changing from getting the technical aspects of focus and exposure correct into picture composition, proper use of depth of field, etc.
    Let Aunt Susie take the snapshots. You keep making art. Everyone is happy in the end.
  • Isn't this a bit like the complaints that desktop publishing and laser printers were killing the typesetting industry and profession? Good design didn't go away because everyone had access to the technology, but the people who weren't good designers but simply had access to something others didn't were hurt for sure. (I'm no pro-designer, but I used to be able to make some money doing resumes simply because I had decent writing skills and had access to laser printers and the software early on... I can't any longer, at least not without becoming REALLY good at the resume crafting aspect, as everyone has the software and printers now.)
    While I'm not a photographer, it seems that what has happened is that non-pro camera setups now have the quality the pro-cameras used to (or at least sufficiently close) and are good at guessing the settings automatically to often get as good of a shot (unless the conditions are unusual). But, that shouldn't take the design aspect or art of good photography away from the pros, it just weeds out many who weren't really pros and were more technicians of cameras or were fortunate enough to have access to good equipment.
  • I wonder if Steve Jobs will be like the Tupac of the electronics industry as to what Tupace is to the music industry. He's "dead" but still manages to release the latest & greatest.
  • The light field technology is interesting, but still in its infancy. We'd be surprised if it really takes off before it can record video. Now that would be something. But for now it's a novelty and/or a crutch for sloppy photographers.
  • The word is 'borne.' One 'bears witness', not 'bares witness.' Sometimes I appreciate old media with its attention to detail.