Google may be looking to snap up VR camera company Lytro

Lytro, the company that first attempted to disrupt the consumer camera market with a light field camera but now uses that technology for virtual reality capture, could be looking for a buyer. Multiple anonymous sources recently told TechCrunch that Google is looking to acquire Lytro.

Neither of the two companies responded to Digital Trends’ requests for comments. Refusing to release an official comment prior to a sale isn’t uncommon, however.

Several of those unnamed sources suggested Google was looking to pay around $40 million for the light field company. Other sources, however, reported a lower price and some suggested Facebook and Apple as possible buyers.

The reported talks also suggested that the deal could involve staff cuts — the Lytro website, however, lists several open full-time positions.

Without an official confirmation from either company, the potential buy remains just that: potential. Technology for building a light field, virtual reality camera could potentially be integrated inside the tech giant in a number of different ways. Google’s current work in virtual reality ranges from Google Earth VR and Google DayDream to YouTube. Unlike a 360 camera that captures one perspective in every direction, Lytro’s VR cameras have six degrees of freedom, allowing actual movement to be built into the footage.

Lytro launched with an idea for a radically different camera that could capture light fields, and pushed out its original camera in 2011. Despite the ability to shoot first and refocus later, the Lytro cameras remained niche products and in 2015, the company decided to switch gears and repurpose the light field technology for virtual reality.

At the time of that change, the CEO said that light field could be both an affordable and easy solution for capturing virtual reality. The company’s giant 98-lens camera, however, is so large and expensive that the camera is generally rented out for different projects. Earlier this year, Lytro partnered with Limitless, a company that creates animated VR characters.

Despite the company’s challenges, the Lytro Immerge 2.0 appears to encompass technology that, like Lytro’s consumer cameras, are ahead of their time. The company said that they Immerge 2.0 is ready to go into 10K — once there are actually headsets that are capable of displaying that same resolution.


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