Lytro Announces Shutdown Following Acquisition Rumors

Lytro Immerge (Conceptual Rendering)

Lytro, the photography startup best known for its “shoot first, focus later” camera, has announced it is shutting down.

“Starting today we will not be taking on new productions or providing professional services as we prepare to wind down the company,” the Lytro team wrote in a Tuesday blog post. “We’re excited to see what new opportunities the future brings for the Lytro team as we go our separate ways.”

The news comes after TechCrunch last week, citing “multiple” unnamed sources, reported that Google is gearing up to acquire Lytro for “about $ 40 million.” As for whether that acquisition actually comes to pass remains to be seen.

The Lytro Light Field Camera, designed to capture images that you can focus after they’ve been shot, hit the scene in 2012 and earned a “fair” rating in PCMag’s review that year.

The camera lives up to this promise, but the photos it captures are of generally poor quality and the Lytro has the worst ergonomic design of any camera I’ve ever used,” PCMag’s Jim Fisher wrote in the review, calling the device “little more than an overpriced toy.”

The company’s follow-up Illum camera also underwhelmed. “If you’re really in love with the idea of light field photography, the Illum is certainly a better camera than its predecessor, but I’m of the opinion that the technology isn’t yet ready for prime time,” Fisher wrote in 2014.

After its Light Field imaging technology failed to catch on with photographers, Lytro in 2015 shifted its focus to virtual reality with Immerge, a camera rig targeted at big-time production studios with deep pockets. The following year, the company introduced Cinema, another professional light field camera that promised to allow for hefty video edits after filming.

“At Lytro, we believe that Light Field will continue to shape the course of Virtual and Augmented Reality, and we’re incredibly proud of the role we’ve been able to play in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” the team wrote in their blog post today. “We would like to thank the various communities that have supported us and hope that our paths will cross in the future.”

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