2012.09 | Lytro & Future Photography

If you haven’t heard of it yet, the Light Field Camera  recently released by Lytro is certainly worthy of consideration for any professional involved in technology solely because of its uniqueness.

The Lytro camera uses a completely different sort of sensor from those used in current digital cameras to capture images. This sensor captures light from various angles and means that there is no need to focus a camera lens at time of image capture. Images are captured and the focus and other settings are adjusted by downloading images and tweaking them with software. Check out an example below. Click to focus on an area, double click to zoom.

See more examples.

This makes possible or simplifies an incredible range of ideas applicable to retail.

Consider a few quick examples:

  • Interactive experience – Online interactive websites or in store screens with photos of a store interior that can zoom and focus when you point to certain areas of the image. This could provide a unique and detailed online shopping experience more akin to a bricks and mortar experience where that is desirable.
  • Unique Offers / Experiences / Marketing – Given the ability to refocus images on the fly, there are vast opportunities for creative uses to engage customers in contests, offers, new product unveilings and the like.
  • Security – Security cameras that are always in focus around store sites. This could ease the job of security staff and make real the hilarious ‘let’s enhance’ scenes of fame in movies and TV.
  • Scanning – Using light field cameras could make scanning with cameras at point of sale faster than current bar code scanning technologies by recognizing multiple items at once. It could even mean the end of barcodes. With faster recognition, we could finally leave 1d and even 2d barcode symbologies behind with more sophisticated recognition algorithms as long as an easily updated database and identification protocol is in place. Based on current software and processing power, this could be some way off.

While the technology is still in its rudimentary form, with first gen cameras that are glorified squared off lens telescopes, and images that take a minute to fully process on high end processors, the idea has still ignited a great deal of interest in tech circles. This sort of technology shift could take ‘point and shoot’ photography to a new level of simplicity. It could rank up there with Kodak bringing photography to the masses, or Polaroid instant photography, but with the expanded reach of photography today, its applications are potentially even more widespread.

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