Lytro, an upcoming camera that can snap photos instantly without even having to focus, reportedly intrigued Steve Jobs so much that he met with the camera’s creator to discuss working with Apple.
That’s according to Adam Lashinsky’s new book, Inside Apple. In the final months of Jobs’ life, he reportedly summoned Lytro’s CEO, Ren Ng, for a meeting. Afterwards, Ng agreed to send Jobs an e-mail, listing three things Ng would like Lytro to do with Apple. (It’s unclear from 9to5Mac’s summary what these three things were.)
It’s no surprise that Apple is interested in revolutionizing the digital camera. Walter Isaacson, Jobs’ official biographer, told the New York Times last year that Jobs wanted to reinvent three things: television, textbooks and photography. Apple’s attempt at textbook reinvention is underway with iBooks Textbooks, and rumor has it that an Apple television is now in the works. Meanwhile, an improved camera is one of the iPhone 4S’s main features.
Lashinsky’s book suggests that Jobs was interested in much bigger innovations with photography. Lytro is a “light field” camera, which can record the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space. The camera can capture an entire light field instantly, and allows users to adjust the focus of their photos after the picture has been taken.
But don’t believe any chatter that Lytro’s technology could show up in the iPhone 5. The standalone camera isn’t even out yet — it’s only available for pre-order — and its arrangement of micro lenses is rather long, making the camera impractical for smartphones. Besides, at $400 and up for a Lytro camera, the technology is still too expensive to integrate with phones. The iPhone 8, however, might crush the standalone digital camera for good.