lytro illum

Lytro Illum, now available for pre-order

Lytro, the light-field camera startup, is rumored to release an Android-powered camera in the next months.

Light-field tech (also known as plenoptic photography) replaces the conventional lens-sensor setup with an array of micro-lenses that capture the same scene from multiple angles. This makes possible effects like post-shot refocusing, with the added benefit of better low-light sensitivity and faster image capture.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because several Android manufacturers have attempted to mimic light-field cameras to varying degrees of success. Samsung and Sony use software to replicate the selective focus feature of Lytro cameras, while Google added a Lens Blur feature to the stock Android camera app that requires the user to move the phone vertically in order to capture a sense of depth from the scene. But it’s HTC’s One (M8) that leads the pack in this area, thanks to the depth sensor on its back, which allows for more precise refocusing compared to software-only solutions.

To compete with these imitators, Lytro could embrace Android in the close future, if @evleaks is to be believed.

Lytro has only released two consumer products so far – an eponymous “point and shoot” camera and the Illum, a larger device targeted at professionals, featuring an 8x optical zoom lens and a large LCD display.

Click on the image below to refocus it or click and drag to change the perspective.

Android is a prime option for companies that want to endow their imaging products with smart features – Samsung, for instance, has released several Android cameras, as well as the smartphone-camera hybrids Galaxy S4 Zoom and Galaxy K Zoom.

Light-field technology could even make the jump to smartphones. Toshiba and Nokia-backed Pelican Imaging are both developing micro-lens array camera modules, opening the possibility to see Lytro-style technology on phones in the next years.

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