Using a technology once limited to expensive specialized photographic equipment that required the processing power of a supercomputer, Ren Ng and his team managed to create a light-field camera for consumers priced at just $399 (for the 8 GB model). Instead of focusing light from a single point like a traditional camera, light-field cameras record light from all directions. While it may not sound innovative, it results in a revolutionary concept in photography: the ability to refocus a shot after it was taken.
Lytros owners are able to focus a shot on their own child’s face, for example, even if the original shot highlighted another child. Images can even be turned into stereoscopic shots. The company continues to refine its camera, recently adding ISO and shutter speed software controls, appealing to casual and more experienced shutterbugs.
Perhaps no company in the last couple of years has been declared dead more times than Pandora. Licensing battles and skeptical investors kept the company on the ropes for nearly a decade, until it finally broke free in the last two years, becoming a brand name synonymous with online music and spawning scores of competitors ranging from Rdio, MOG, Rara and Spotify.