Lytro Light Field Camera
Lytro Light Field Camera
Created a new topology to mirror a breakthrough in photographic technology. Understood the need for the physical and virtual to interact to build and facilitate community beyond the act of taking pictures. As we’ve seen from lomo, instagram, instamatic et al, the pictures themselves are only part of the story and Lytro successfully fuse this thinking with clear and direct approach in form factor.
Lytro Light Field Camera
Straight out of Stanford’s research labs, the Lytro Light Field Camera is the first consumer Light Field Imaging camera. It’s an Icon for a new era, celebrating the most significant technology shift in photography in decades. Lytro captures dynamic vectors of light to create ‘Living Images’; images that contain the color, intensity and direction of all light-rays in a scene. The results are photos that can be focused infinitely after they are taken. Derived from the gesture of viewing a kaleidoscope, the ‘extruded-lens’ form is supremely clean – shrinking what took an advanced imaging-lab into the palm of your hand.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Lytro approached us to develop the first consumer camera based on Light Field Imaging – the groundbreaking technology developed by Dr. Ren Ng’s PhD research at Stanford. The start-up had a lens/sensor package that would deliver a winning product within a realistic timeframe and budget. These optics are larger than conventional ‘point & shoot’ cameras’, creating severe physical constraints for ID as delivering the constant f/2 aperture was essential to capturing light ray data. UI – physical and digital – was also essential to the program and had to be tightly integrated into the ID. Above all though, we faced the challenge of storytelling, of introducing a new imaging device into a saturated market weighted down by years of legacy and packed with top-quality brands. Lytro would need to feel rock solid and look as capable as any product produced by Nikon or Cannon, despite being developed by a start-up team of a dozen in Mountain View, CA. This multi-dimensional challenge: business, physical, structural and narrative drove the creation of a singular, extraordinary device: the Lytro Light Field Camera.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Our team set out to match the innovative technology with an equally innovative approach to design by not taking anything for granted. Current camera devices are steeped in antiquated gestalt, born of reflex cameras with the need to house mirrors and film. Despite evolving to digital, the industry kept the slab with the pointy lens – we recognized Lytro as a chance to evolve this entrenched paradigm. We set the goal at creating the most iconic and pure design for this groundbreaking technology within the given timeframe, budget and hardware constraints. This notion was applied ground up and driven by the long cylindrical lens that was essential for the device’s performance. We were approached to re-skin a component bundle, our answer was to tear it down and re-build it into an Iconic object that re-defines the camera as the world knows it.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The Lytro Camera’s form was born through testing dozens of mock-ups: combining lenses, screens and electronics. Once we settled upon the scope layout streamlining the internal component architecture with the lens and reducing features to the bare minimum came naturally. The fact that the Lytro camera needed very few controls inspired us to create a seamless grid into which all features were integrated. By creating a long and cylindrical form, we changed the way in which the camera would be used, held and interacted with. The intersection of hardware and UI was an additional challenge that we met with intuitive and tactile controls that are complemented with the touch screen UI. The result is a camera radically different from any other, with no single superficial feature.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Striking in its simplicity, Lytro is a rock-solid object, trustworthy for both the camera aficionado and the digital-mom, while capturing the imagination of the tech-savvy and lifestyle media alike. Its colorful anodized aluminum body, supple rubber controls and intuitive touch-screen deliver a complex message with clarity – the new way to experience photography is here. This new physical architecture splits electronics into 3 square logic boards, stacked inline with sensor, battery, lens and screen. 4 long screws end to end thread this entire assembly, further simplifying the structure. This hyper dense stack is enclosed in a 112mm long aluminum extrusion that functions as both cosmetic housing and exoskeleton. Each component within was weighed and positioned precisely to place the center of gravity directly under the shutter button – a seemingly small detail that rests Lytro effortlessly and securely in your hand. Lytro’s interface is tailored to its anatomy. Driven mainly by touch-screen UI, it is supplemented by only three physical features: shutter, power and a zoom scroll line. These are seamlessly integrated into a rubberized grip-pattern that covers all but the lens length. It is an interface that is clean, intuitive and tactile. Both visceral and thoughtful, Lytro is anchored in strong logic – compact thanks to its unique linear architecture, pure, clear and smart. It is a breath of fresh air in a camera market used to bygone thinking – speaking volumes for the next generation of photography.