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Steve Jobs was interested in Lytro's plenoptic camera, company confirms

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Lytro won't confirm a cellphone camera partnership, but a new book, Inside Apple, reveals that Steve Jobs met with Lytro CEO Ren Ng and discussed how the two companies could work together in the future.

Lytro Ren Ng stock 1024
Lytro Ren Ng stock 1024

There's a lot of buzz today about how Lytro's shoot-first, focus-afterwards camera technology could appear in a new Apple iPhone, and while there hasn't been any confirmation of that idea, a new nonfiction book, Inside Apple, revealed that Steve Jobs did indeed meet with Lytro CEO Ren Ng and discuss how the two companies could work together in the future. Here's the relevant excerpt:

The company's CEO, Ren Ng, a brilliant computer scientist with a PhD from Stanford, immediately called Jobs, who picked up the phone and quickly said, 'if you’re free this afternoon maybe we would could get together.' Ng, who is 32, hurried to Palo Alto, showed Jobs a demo of Lytro's technology, discussed cameras and product design with him, and, at Jobs's request, agreed to send him an email outlining three things he'd like Lytro to do with Apple.

Right now, Lytro's first camera features an "11-megaray" sensor and microlens array inside a small flashlight-like case (see the microlens on video right here), but those components would need to be shrunk quite a bit further to appear in a standard Apple device. Lytro has publicly discussed future possibilities, though: director of photography Eric Cheng told us there was nothing stopping Lytro from building a video camera, and executive chairman Charles Chi actually spoke to the cellphone camera sensor market specifically in an interview with PCWorld.

If there's actually a budding relationship between Lytro and Apple, though, the company isn't telling, though it did confirm a meeting with Steve Jobs. Lytro provided this statement:

We have always admired Apple and share their dedication to innovation. It’s in that spirit that we had the pleasure to meet with Mr. Jobs prior to his passing and to show him what Lytro was working on as a result of his interest in the technology. We cannot provide comment on any past, existing or pending business relationships.

Take a look at what Lytro's camera is capable of in these three videos (we've embedded one below) and keep an eye on The Verge for our full review in the coming weeks!