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Steve Jobs looked to reinvent Apple’s iPhone photography with instant capture system, advanced light-field sensors

“He had three things that he wanted to reinvent: the television, textbooks and photography,” said biographer Walter Isaacson in an interview following the release of his biography on Steve Jobs. Part one, television, is already underway with reports claiming that Apple is set to unveil an advanced television set with Siri voice-recognition software by 2013. More recent reports even suggested that Apple is already planning its assault on the television market by meeting with television show networks.

Part two of the Apple cofounder’s three-part plan of reinvention was completed just last week with the release of the iBooks 2 platform and iBooks Author, which are two Apple products designed to replace the old, paper textbooks in students’ backpacks with just one iPad. However, part three, photography, is certainly still amidst reinvention. Some claim that Apple’s iPhone 4S —which allows for facial recognition, almost-instant photo captures, HDR-photo taking, 1080P video recording, and on device photo editing, all through a high-quality Sony 8-megapixel sensor— is mobile photography at its finest, but Steve Jobs thought way beyond that. Read below for more details:

Lytro’s standalone cameras

In his final months, as the upcoming book “Inside Apple” by Adam Lashinsky explained, Jobs made an effort to meet with Ren Ng, a Stanford graduate and the CEO of a photography company Lytro. After it became known to Ng that Jobs wanted to meet, Ng rushed to Jobs’ Palo Alto home to discuss product design and photography. According to “Inside Apple”:

The company’s CEO, Ren Ng, a brilliant computer scientist with a PhD from Stanford, immediately called Jobs, who picked up the phone and quickly said, “if you’re free this afternoon maybe we would could get together.” Ng, who is thirty-two, hurried to Palo Alto, showed Jobs a demo of Lytro’s technology, discussed cameras and product design with him, and, at Jobs’s request, agreed to send him an email outlining three things he’d like Lytro to do with Apple.

Jobs actively pursued his goal of reinventing photography, asking the CEO of Lytro to outline three specific things that the company would want to work on with Apple. As Lytro explained on its official website, the company’s technology is extremely unique and fits the build of reinventing something as apparently simple as capturing a photograph. Apple made a point to explain how much light the new iPhone 4S camera can take in with its new sensor and its newly designed 5-lens optics system. Instead of working in a single-pane fashion —like most cameras today— Lytro’s technology is actually able to intake an entire light field at one time.

Behind the scenes of Lytro’s camera technology

Lytro said this means its sensor can take in “all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space.” Of course, this incredibly advanced and futuristic camera technology would be perfect in a thin and light mobile device for the mass-market consumer. It would push this future into millions of customer’s hands. While the iPhone 4S camera is incredibly speedy, in comparison to competing smartphone camera systems, Lytro’s technology would make picture taking instant. The company claims this instant photo taking makes the Lytro system like no other.

Lytro’s official video

The other headline feature of the Lytro camera system is its ability to take photos without focusing on a particular object. The images that the Lytro camera takes can be focused after the fact. In terms of integration in a product like an iPhone, a user can instantly snap a photo with the lens, and then use the iPhone’s (hypothetical) built-in software to choose a focus on particular objects in the frame. With Steve Jobs just meeting Lytro’s CEO this past summer, it is difficult to tell if we will see this breakthrough photography technology in upcoming Apple products. It is nearly certain, though, that we will see part three of Steve Jobs’ plans for reinvention to follow Apple’s work on textbooks and the television.

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