Lytro to focus on VR and video with $50 million investment

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Lytro -- maker of "shoot now, focus later" cameras -- is diving into the virtual reality and video market, following an investment of $50 million led by GSV Capital. The market shift means Lytro will lay off 25 - 50 of its 130 employees, and at the same time hire new folks with expertise in VR and video. Lytro is best known for its tubelike, selective-focus cameras released in 2012, though its newest model, the Illum, is a high-end SLR-style device. The company has been feeling out its target market for a while, and while we thought the new camera was better than its predecessor, VR might turn out to be a better fit for Lytro overall.

Virtual reality is all the rage in the tech world, and its recent explosion at the Sundance Film Festival demonstrated its serious mass-market appeal. But, so far, no one company has jumped to the front of the pack when it comes to VR video. Capturing real-life worlds for 360-degree, multi-focus film presents a number of challenges to movie makers. Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal tells Re/code, "Light-field is really the perfect solution for this."

Lytro still plans on releasing its third-generation camera next year, a device that we noted "should be pretty intriguing," considering the technological advances and ergonomic missteps of the Illum.

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