ACQUISITION ALERT! Google is buying imagine startup Lytro for around $40m, looking to snap up the firm's tech for virtual reality (VR) use.
At least that's according to TechCrunch, which was tipped off by a clutch of sources, one of which reckons Lytro will only get flogged for $25m.
Another source weaved a more interesting story by noting that not all of Lytro's employees will be absorbed into Google's corporate mass, but all the tech will be swallowed up.
As such, this would appear to be very much a technology acquisition that can augment Google's other work, rather than a startup purchase Google could use to segue into other areas.
You may remember Lyto from its debut in 2011 where it popped up with an odd rectangular camera that used 'light field' technology to enable pictures to be refocussed after they've been snapped.
The camera wasn't exactly a massive seller, and Lytro did pivot (classic startup behaviour) into the world of VR hardware, producing tech like light field 360 camera arrays, handy for shooting photos and videos for use with a VR headset.
With VR options for YouTube, the Daydream platform and the Cardboard budget VR goggles, Google is pretty into VR at the moment, so having fancy tech to augment its work seems like a shrewd move. Plus, it'll get its hands on Lytro's 59 patents, and if there's one thing tech firms like, it's patents.
Google also launched the 'Welcome to Light Fields' app on gaming platform Steam last week, designed to let VR headset users "experience real-world reflections, depth, and translucence like never before". So we'd place a decent metaphorical bet that Lytro's tech will feed into the work Google has been doing with the app.
Hopefully, having more swanky tech added into easily accessed VR platforms will help fuel the rise of mainstream VR, moving on from niche apps that are fun to use once in a while to compelling virtual experiences and games. µ
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