According to a new report from TechCrunch, Lytro is the latest company that Google will acquire. Lytro was initially founded in 2006, and its first product – the Lytro Light Field Camera – received a lot of attention in 2012 thanks to its unique design and ability to change the focus of images after they were captured.
Google's apparently seeking an "asset sale" with this deal, meaning that Google would obtain Lytro's 59 different patents that all relate to digital and Light Field photography (the tech that made products like the Light Field Camera and Illum from 2014 so noteworthy).
While one source says that Google will purchase Lytro for $40 million, another claims that the sale could be as low as $25 million. For a company that raised more than $200 million in funding and had a reported value of $360 million once its last round of funding was completed in 2017, that's incredibly low.
Along with this, TechCrunch also notes –
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.
Following the release of its Illum camera, Lytro shifted its focus to virtual reality in 2015 with the launch of Lytro Immerge – something the company describes as "the world's first professional Light Field solution for cinematic VR, providing true presence for live action VR through six degrees of freedom."
That Light Field technology is the same system found in Lytro's previous two cameras, and in addition to letting users change the focus on images, it captures light in a way that allows you basically create a 3D scene with data on the distance between objects in the frame. This has the potential for all sorts of tricks, and it allows for much more control over photos compared to more traditional cameras.
Assuming this deal goes through, it'll be interesting to see how Google integrates Lytro's tech into its products. Will we see Light Field tech make its way into Daydream VR? What about future Pixel phones? A lot of this is still unknown, but the potential of what could come out of this is exciting nonetheless.
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