In the latest MIT Technology Review, there’s a short piece on the ‘Lytro‘, a camera that captures not just the light that falls on its sensor, but also the angle of that light. This feature allows different information, different kinds of shots, to be extracted computationally after the button is pressed.
I want one. They sell for $500.
Think of the archaeological uses! I’m no photographer, but as I understand things, a lot of archaeological photography comes down to the creative use of oblique angles, whether to see crop marks or to pick out very fine details of artefacts. If the Lytro captures the angles of the light hitting its sensors, then presumably one could take a shot, post the database of information associated with that shot, then allow other [digital] archaeologists to comb through that data extracting information/pictures of relevance? Perhaps a single photo of the soil could be combed through highlighting different textures, colours, etc… Try out their gallery here.
The future of this camera is in the software apps developed to take advantage of the massive database of information that it will generate:
Refocusing images after they are shot is just the beginning of what Lytro’s cameras will be able to do. A downloadable software update will soon enable them to capture everything in a photo in sharp focus regardless of its distance from the lens, which is practically impossible with a conventional camera. Another update scheduled for this year will use the data in a Lytro snapshot to create a 3-D image. Ng is also exploring a video camera that could be focused after shots were taken, potentially giving home movies a much-needed boost in production values.