Report: Google Is Buying Light-Field Camera Startup Lytro for About $40M

Google Acquiring Lytro
Credit: ExpertReviews
Google Acquiring Lytro
Credit: ExpertReviews

Multiple sources claim that Google is making a move to buy Lytro, an imaging startup specialising in light-field technology.

Founded in 2006, the company created the first consumer camera that uses light-field technology. The technology allows the camera to refocus to any parts of the picture even after it is taken. Lytro’s first camera came out in 2012. It had a touchscreen on one end and a lens on the other and was housed in a red tube.

Their second generation camera, the Lytro Illum, came out in 2014. Unfortunately, both models didn’t do very well on sales despite their 12-year experience in the field. More recently, the company has been focusing on professional camera technology for filmmaking and capturing VR video.

TechCrunch reports that one source has described the acquisition as an asset-sale. Apparently, this sale will go for no more than $40 million.

Their other sources claim that it was actually shopped around to other companies including Facebook for $25 million. Apple was also included in the list according to another source. There’s also a vague information about the company’s employees already receiving severance pay while some just left.

The sale will also include Lytro’s 59 patents related to light-field and digital imaging technologies if it is finalized. This is something that Google could actually have a lot of use for.

Forty million dollars might sound quite a lot to you and me but this is actually not a good deal for Lytro.

The startup company raised about $200 million in funding over the years. As recent as 2017, it was valued at around $360 million.

Although there are no concrete details of this acquisition, it is very likely that Google is eyeing up Lytro to bolster their own VR efforts. Just last week, the tech giant introduced an app that to display immersive photography in virtual reality called Light Fields.