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You know that scene in Bladerunner where Harrison Ford uses a computer to zoom, refocus and travel in 3D space within a photograph? For years we’ve all thought that would be forever impossible, but new technology from Lytro suggests that this sort of thing may soon be possible.

Their forthcoming light field camera captures not just one perspective of a scene, but uses a lenticular array to capture the entire light field, meaning that the 3D space from which the light originated can be explored after the photo is taken – so you can change which part of the scene is in focus, generate 3D images or even peek “behind” foreground objects.

The Silicon Valley startup clearly faces technical and financial challenges to change their prototypes into an affordable consumer product – but the cat is out of the bag on the idea, and we can expect camera manufacturers to race to catch up and enter this brand new market. This is a disruptive technology with huge potential to change the way we think about photography. Soon we may have a completely new kind of camera, which can truly capture a moment in a way we never thought possible. Some are wondering if it will take the skill out of photography, while others are already speculating about what this might do to re-ignite 3D film-making.

Read more details at AllThingsDigital and try refocussing images for yourself in Lytro’s Picture Gallery.

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SpaceShipOne in flight

The X-Prize Foundation is a non-profit charity which catalyzed the creation of a private space travel industry. Virgin Galactic recently completed its maiden voyage and will be taking passengers to space using technology first created for SpaceShipOne, winner of the Ansari X-Prize in 2004.

The Foundation has announced, in line with their mission is to bring about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity”, $100 million of prizes over the next 10 years, in four key areas – Energy & Environment, Education & Global Development, Exploration and Life Sciences.

The Life Sciences category is of particular interest as it specifically mentions Human 2.0 devices, brain computer-interfaces, bionics, artificial intelligence physicians and telemedecine. If the prize gives the same boost to innovation and scientific development in this field that it has for space travel, we can be sure of some exciting progress in the next few years.


Image credit: sdawara on Flickr.

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