OnQ Blog

LYTRO ILLUM: a light field camera with the power of a Snapdragon processor

The power-efficient, high-performance Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor can be found in some of the best smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes and cars.  But starting this month, you’ll be able to purchase the first stand-alone camera to feature a Snapdragon processor — the LYTRO ILLUM — a light field camera and software platform designed to redefine the way we portray the world around us.

Built to harness the full power of the light field, the professional-grade LYTRO ILLUM will give photographers a new medium capable of capturing visual experiences in their purest form — not as a static cross-section of reality but an authentic, interactive window into their world.

The computing hardware in the LYTRO ILLUM is not achieved by its multicore-CPU alone; it’s actually the Snapdragon 800 processor’s heterogeneous architecture. Inside, the CPU, GPU, DSP and multimedia subsystem as well as other specialized cores are designed to work more effectively and efficiently together to deliver higher performance as well as lower power consumption compared to using the CPU alone.

The camera paves the way for an immersive brand of storytelling in which images can be brought to life in multiple dimensions through light field photography — a transformative new category that empowers artistic creation and expression beyond what is possible in the 2D world of digital and film. In capturing the color, intensity and direction of every light ray flowing into the camera, LYTRO ILLUM provides a massive amount of visual information that allows photographers to recreate sights and scenes on a truly experiential canvas.

To enable rich, layered compositions, LYTRO ILLUM delivers unparalleled optical versatility by merging custom-built hardware with a powerful software platform. The camera offers a 40-megaray light field sensor, 8x optical zoom range, constant f/2.0 aperture and a high-speed shutter capable of freezing motion under a wide variety of conditions. After image capture, the innovative software platform empowers photographers to adjust aspects of images that were previously fixed, such as focus, tilt, perspective shift and depth of field, which allows the photographer to create images that will resonate for the viewer not just in one dimension, but in every dimension

The unique photographic experience created by the LYTRO ILLUM reflects the technological revolution around virtual reality and 3D graphics as new storytelling formats in the Digital Age. In the hands of creative pioneers, the camera is a catalyst for a transformational shift in which the world will increasingly look for opportunities to craft a more immersive artistic experience.

Below is an image of the original Lytro Light Field camera array.  In the image you can see 96 cameras were strategically mounted at slightly different angle and then each capture a photo in unison. The photos were later run through Lytro’s post 3D-modeling computations to produce a living photo.  Today this process is compacted and created in realtime via LYTRO ILLUM light field camera and software platform.

Lytro light field arrays

Lytro’s first generation light field camera demonstrated what the light field image sensor was capable of.

“We wanted to create a professional-grade light field camera, that could create richer living pictures, equipped with a faster real-time processing engine,” says Kurt Akeley, Lytro CTO.  “To build that, we needed more than a processor with a CPU and GPU. This is where the Snapdragon 800 came into play.”

As stated earlier, the Snapdragon 800 processor offers heterogeneous architecture — inside, the CPU, GPU, DSP and multimedia subsystem as well as other specialized cores work more effectively and efficiently together to deliver higher performance as well as lower power consumption compared to using the CPU alone. 

The graph below illustrates the value of a heterogeneous system by showing the optimal IP block architecture for features executed in a computational camera. By taking advantage of Snapdragon’s heterogeneous architecture, it allowed Lytro to utilized this increase in raw performance to support key features including real-time depth assist.

A side view of the Lytro Illum

The LYTRO ILLUM camera is expected to sell for $1,599 starting this month.  For more information about the LYTRO ILLUM camera and to take advantage of the special introductory offer when you pre-order please visit the Lytro website.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.