What is Light Field Camera and Where can You See it?

What is Light Field Camera and Where can You See it?

2022-07-01 18:22:25

Light field camera is one of the unique cameras with special and unusual technology in the field of 3D vision. The technology itself has been up and down in recent years with interesting features. When talking about light field camera, we have to bring up Lytro. The relations are so tight that it’s like one can’t discuss iPhone without Steven Jobs.


Lytro, a company used to get all the attention and investment a decade ago, had hit a rough patch. In March 2018, Lytro was officially acquired by Google with the price of $40 million which is roughly 20% of the money invested during Lytro’s primes. The namesake light field camera, the main production developed by Lytro itself, had also taken the downhill alongside with the company. A decade has gone by, and the strongly related technology once again catches people’s attention, ours among them.


What is a light field camera


It is a type of camera that doesn’t need to adjust focus beforehand. The camera catches huge amount of light and then automatically focuses after the photo is taken. The technology behind it is that a main lens captures the light which is then focused on the photoreceptor behind the lens. In this way, the sum of all the light forms a lot of small dots, which are assembled to form an image. The light field camera has a microscope array with 90,000 micro lenses between the main lens and the photoreceptor. The light from the main lens is received by each small array and sent to the front of the sensor to convert the light data, and then record it digitally.



Industrial applications of a light field camera

Since the principle determines that the resolution is relatively low compared with other consumer cameras or smart phones, the light field camera designed for consumers such as photographers was not a big hit esp. in high price.


The regular consumer market may frown upon the light field camera, however, it can be adopted in a bunch of fields in industrial applications. It can be beneficial in industries such as 3C and medical industry with unique advantages.


The main aspect for light field cameras are similar to 3D vision like 3D structure light and binocular vision. However, the advantages of fast imaging and algorithm, wide FOV and other feature set it apart in order to be one of the most suitable choices:


  • Defect detection


The external size of an industrial product can directly reflect the errors during manufacturing which is crucial in both user experience and quality control of the products. A light field camera can be benefit in the area of such detection like 3D detection of defects in mobile phone screen modules, error detection of precision industrial parts (MEMS, gas turbine blades, etc.), 3D inspection of metal wires of chips, other 3D inspection of work-pieces and many more.


  • Medical industry


As a depth sensor, light field camera can assist surgical robot to perform surgeries. With its wide FOV and fast algorithm, a light field camera can rapidly locate the position of surgical robot and target area. Therefore, surgical robots can perform suture a lot faster and more precise.


  • 3D modeling


Due to the specific principles of light field cameras, it enables 3D modeling with one single shot. That’s prettying shocking since traditional methods usually involve multiple photos taken in order to form a 3D model. This can be extremely useful in many sub-areas such as medical industry.



No matter what happened to Lytro, no one can deny the development of a new type of technology. Due to the high price and low costumer experience, a light field camera may not be suitable for the consumer market. But it can be of vital importance in the field of industrial purposes.

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