Skip to main content

Lytro’s ‘living pictures’ are now dead on the web

Lytro’s ‘living pictures’ are now dead on the web


So long and thanks for all the broken embeds

Share this story

Lytro Illum 2040px

Lytro’s once futuristic “living pictures,” which photographers and viewers alike were able to refocus to their heart’s content after they were taken, are now almost totally dead. The company recently pulled hosting support for, which is where all photos with Lytro cameras had to be shared in order to allow users to play with the refocusing and 3D depth features. This move has subsequently killed all the Lytro photos embedded across the internet (including in our 2014 review of the Illum, Lytro’s second — and last — consumer camera).

Living pictures will still work in Lytro’s desktop app, but in order to share photos taken with the company’s cameras going forward, users will have to export them as .mov, .gif, or static JPGs.

“More than two years ago, Lytro began focusing on Light Field video solutions for the cinema and virtual reality industries and discontinued the manufacturing and distribution of Lytro cameras for photography,” the company wrote on a support page of its website. “As a part of our plan to further focus on these new efforts, the ability to publish from Lytro Desktop and Lytro Mobile to will be discontinued.”

Lytro’s cameras worked thanks to something called light field photography, where individual rays of light are captured along with data that describes where they came from in 3D space. This allowed Lytro to build software (on the desktop, on the web, and on the cameras themselves) that used all this information in novel ways, like changing the focus point of an image.

Lytro’s cameras never lived up to the promise of their ideas

Unfortunately, the company’s consumer cameras were never very good. The original — a lipstick tube of a camera — was more or less just a proof of concept. And while the Illum occasionally wowed, the process of shooting (and especially editing) living pictures was too much of a chore to ever justify its $1,500 price tag.

Lytro started its shift away from consumer cameras not long after the Illum was released. And the company seems to have found success in translating its light field tech to the worlds of professional cinema and virtual reality, where issues like size and speed sometimes matter less, especially if the tradeoff is heaps and heaps of volumetric data.

But another reason Lytro’s consumer efforts failed was also the same reason it felt like it would succeed. The core idea Lytro first explored — being able to correctly focus a photo that you screwed up — was so powerful that it proliferated into some smartphone and traditional digital cameras. They’re often locked to a specific shooting mode (like Selective Focus on Samsung’s phones, for example), but the fact remains that these companies found ways to mimic Lytro’s fancy, expensive, and slow light field capture process with just software, and deliver it in a product that’s already in your pocket.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.