Lytro CEO admits layoffs, promises ‘breakthrough’ products in 2014










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Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal has acknowledged that the company made a ‘small number’ of layoffs earlier this year and that there are some ‘kinks’ to be worked out with its unique ‘light field’ camera. Meanwhile, according to an article by tech blog SFGate, industry sources report that the Lytro camera ‘isn’t selling well so far’, due to its price and lack of appeal to professional photographers. Rosenthal is, however, bullish on the future of the company, promising ‘multiple […] breakthrough products’ in 2014. 

According to Brian Blau of market research firm Gartner, some of the challenges faced by the company include its high price point and that ‘people think the product is interesting, but it might not meeting their needs in terms of what a camera is today’. Lytro received $50 million in venture capital and secured placement for its Light Field camera models at many top-tier retailers.

Six months ago, the company laid off a ‘small number of employees’ and shortly thereafter, brought in Jason Rosenthal, who replaced Lytro founder Ren Ng as CEO. Speaking to SFGate’s James Temple, Rosenthal compares the original Light Field Camera to the Tesla Roadster, saying that Lytro is working on their ‘Model S’ (which received Consumer Reports highest rating ever). He hints that Lytro has a ‘packed product roadmap for next year’.

Meanwhile, Margit Wennmachers of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (which supplied the company with that $50 million in funding), hints that one of the future Lytro products would have features that would appeal to professional photographers. 

Click the source link for additional information about Lytro’s future.









Comments

tomatoketchup

Lesson 1: if it’s a one megapixel camera, say publicly it’s a one megapixel camera. Don’t make up nonsensical garbage about megarays, play the elusive card, and force the potential buyer to scour the internet to find out the true output resolution of the device.

mpgxsvcd

Hasselbad thinks this was a bad idea.

mpgxsvcd

This was the answer to the question that nobody asked. It was a great product without a real purpose.

Johannes Zander

Would sell better with a Hasselblad grip.

reginalddwight

The major problem facing venture capitalists isn’t the lack of innovative products to invest in but knowing which ones.

To most, this Lytro product was DOA.

.

Robert Gordon Wallace

My younger son a research scientist working on a different part of the electro magnetic spectrum was informing my wife, elder son and myself over a celebratory dinner that optical camera technology would be overtaken.
In a slightly heated discussion with elder son about optical zooming he spoke of differential diffraction grids and some random processes which would capture all the information you need to produce a high quality image. Wonder if this product is a first step?

Andrew Booth

A bad implementation of something consumers don’t need.

wildbild

The Lytro is not a consumer product.
It is still this great technology that hasn’t found it’s purpose, yet.

Artak Hambarian

Rallyfan mention something very interesting. Why Lytro does not advertise the capability of creating a one shot stacked focus pictures? That is an amazing feature. It may be realised both in camera and via post processing. One shot means that you have perfect set of pictures to focus stack.

Artak Hambarian

Rallyfan mention something very interesting. Why Lytro does not advertise the capability of creating a one shot stacked focus pictures? That is an amazing feature. It may be realised both in camera and via post processing. One shot means that you have perfect set of pictures to facus stack.

mpetersson

They had an interesting idea and an innovative technology, then they used it to build an overpriced toy with horrible ergonomics. I think that the idea could have worked quite well, but implementation was awful.

yabokkie

there is neither interesting idea nor innovation. though some who don’t have basic training in physics may find it new to their limited knowledge.

this may not even be an idea to attract consumers, just a trick to fool venture capitalists.

thx1138

I’m surprised to see so many having a laugh at Lytro. Clearly most people don’t understand what they have done, and actually capturing more than just the image intensity and capturing the directional light vectors impinging on the sensor is a big deal. Sure the product at this stage is very limited in scope, but this whole field of computational photography is about to explode and has uses that will be very welcome down the track. Let us say it’s an active research field.

vFunct

lol. god this was the worst product idea ever.. “FOCUSING IS SOOO HARD!”

There are far too many Venture Capitalists with too much money and not enough brains.

Craig49

Is anyone, besides Lytro, surprised?

yabokkie

I am.

that someone had to actually do it to know the result.

VadymA

A sad story of creating a product that nobody needs. Hope their patents will find the way in some industry, if not in consumer photography. And I have a feel that all this talk about exciting new products is just a smokescreen to save their faces in front of investors…

Michal59

Lightfield technology is not new and was surely not invented by Ng.There are companies with success in industry and science which fields -IMHO – are better target for this technology.
See http://raytrix.de/ for instance.

CaseyComo

I was interested (a little) in this when it first came out. And then, I had a big fat case of “meh.”

kdaphoto

If they have a real product in 2014 they should offer a generous upgrade path for those who purchased the original. It is a novelty and targeted for early adoptors (like me) to play with. But yes, in the end it wasn’t very useful and it has been a pretty blue paper weight for quite a while.

Of course, my first if is a big if. We’ll see.

TTLstalker

I guess the Lytro camera, as novel as it might be, is a solution looking for a problem. Just because you can make something new doesn’t mean people have a need for it. I think they needed to consult with a photographer.lol

rallyfan

I tend to agree as I can’t figure out what use this thing would have in the real world to justify the price. In the image above (taken with a Lytro, I wonder?) the sole use of the tech would be to bring the guy grinning like an idiot into focus. Hurray.

Neeneko

I am kinda saddened at people taking so much glee in a product failing. Lytro at least took a chance and did something different rather then the ‘go faster stripes’ that DSLR manufacturers have been putting out lately.

I suspect the problem is less that it did not appeal to professionals, and more it was not a good status symbol for ‘prosumers’, too many of whom seemed to have an emotional stake in the technology not catching on.

I doubt professionals cared too much one way or the other. They are generally too busy actually getting work done.

rallyfan

If you are saddened, buy more product or buy some stock in the company.

How many Lytro cameras did you buy? Why?

Robert Schambach

It’s a gimmick

CameraLabTester

The company should put out a CONTEST with great prizes with the theme:

Best 5 uses of the Lytro Camera:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

.

yabokkie

4 Lytro cameras to make a small stool for the kids.

billybones1918

No, these are the RESULTS of that contest

KariIceland

“an article by tech blog SFGate, industry sources report that the Lytro camera ‘isn’t selling well so far’, due to its price and lack of appeal to professional photographers.”

Gee, I wonder why (sarcasm)

“‘small number of employees’ “
Also known as 49% of it’s employees

“Meanwhile, Margit Wennmachers of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (which supplied the company with that $50 million in funding), hints that one of the future Lytro products would have features that would appeal to professional photographers. “

Yes I believe that product is called a DSLR and that it will be delivered in 50 years or so.

Vladik

I think the problem is that it’s 1 megapixel and they only look good on the tinny little screen of that Litro itself. There is a lot that they could have done before simply throwing that barely finished product on the market. For 350 bucks I can get a Panny LX7, which is an awesome little cam.

Mssimo

I wonder what camera was used to take the promotional image above.

Astrotripper

Hope they can make it. What I would expect from this technology is a perfect point and shoot camera. No worrying about focusing, depth of field and so on. That would be a killer for street photography.

Current Lytro cameras are neat gadgets, but don’t deliver that. Live refocusing is nice and all, but still just a gimmick. It pretty much fails as a camera, because it can’t output a picture at resolutions matching even a smartphone cameras.

Ability to set focus during RAW development would be fine for 99% of use cases. Make live refocusing a secondary, cool feature, not the center point of the whole thing.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed, as I really like the underlying idea and would love to see an ultimate point and shoot camera.

AngryCorgi

Lemme guess…Will the next Lytro camera take photos LARGER than 0.26MP of the original? Because 512×512 shots = useless.

Oh, and the “square flashlight” ergonomics are just a bad idea.

Neeneko

Sadly, yeah, the ‘square flashlight’ frame was probably a bad idea. It looks good to people into machine vision, but lacks the sexieness of a status symbol.

Northgrove

I like the idea, but they have problems with the execution. For one, I can’t shoot with something like that! There’s no usability whatsoever in holding a tiny square thing. Make it a camera that I can grip, give it the basic feature set and WiFi, and we’ll talk.

primeshooter

Pointless.

Vlad S

“Rosenthal is, however, bullish on the future of the company, promising ‘multiple […] breakthrough products’ in 2014.”

Of course he is, he would not be worth anything as a CEO if he was not bullish, and he will be until he leaves the company or it goes bust. CEO being bullish does not mean squat.

Doug Frost

It was never more than a gimmick. Interesting, but not particularly useful for anything beyond being able to impress your friends with it for about 5 minutes.

AbrasiveReducer

So far, more like Nimslo than Tesla.

Jonne Ollakka

Large sensor, so the light field tech actually is useful. Higher resolution, comes with a larger sensor and good post processing software. Then I’m interested.

babalu

If technically possible, what I think will interest potential enthusiast clients would
be a feature whereby a macro shot with different sharpness levels can
be combined in-camera to produce one picture with greater DOF than what
can be done today with affordable macro lenses .

WayneHuangPhoto

I would buy that.

jubilatu

just another BS marketing. Any modern smartphone (HTC one 4Mpx included) is better as a camera.

jjl

They should have targeted microscopy & other technical fields first. This technology could be really helpful in technical applications where depth of field is a big issue – mostly in extreme macro situations. Imagine looking at photos of bacteria or plankton with this?

But as a consumer product, there just isn’t an easy way to view/share the images, and after refocusing an image a couple times, it’s like.. ok, that’s pretty cool, but what’s the point exactly?

Raist3d

Yes, yes & yes.

rallyfan

Confocal microscopy allows stacking of images from different planes (fields of view) at the subcellular level. Although out-of-plane images are specifically excluded from the end-product “stack,” the number of included images is such that a 3D visualization of the observed structure is feasible. The optics used are not unconventional, and the technology dates back decades now. In fact this was among my initial exposures to digital photography.

There are “3d” techniques available with other optical scopes as well.

To access the scientific market this company would have to partner with a hardware/software firm already established in the field.

rallyfan

Now, if Lytro come up with a way for me to generate in-focus images of an object ranging from, say, 15 to 1000 kg and moving at, say, 5 kph to 300 kph as a series of sharp photos taken from a distance of 20m to 50m, I’d be buying — but they’d have to be cheaper than the current dSLR bodies and lenese, lighter, more resilient, and I’d want it yesterday. A lightweight, high efficiency and connected rig to shoot animals and sports including motorsport would be useful

The rest is hippy talk and vapourware.

Neeneko

That would probably have been wise. Reading their stuff it seems obvious the company has a strong machine-vision bend to it, so they did what they thought was cool. It did not translate well unfortunately.

rallyfan

I can’t think of a single use for this camera and I suspect I’m not alone. If there were something I could use it for I might buy it I suppose.

Raist3d

Here’s one for a start Lytro- don’t make me have to upload *my* photos to *your* website to share them or show them.

Also get rid of this tag line in your website: “The Lytro camera lets you create and share living pictures that you and your friends can endlessly refocus after you take them.”

Nobody wants to look at photos “endlessly refocusing them.” That’s just nonsense. You should re-package is as the ability to modify focus as a post process operation- with the idea of *still baking it into a final product*, or say produce two-three interesting shots out of one capture by different *baked final selections of focus*.

Source Article from http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/08/12/lytro-ceo-admits-layoffs-promises-breakthrough-products-in-2014