Lytro’s unusual camera technology could find its way into night vision goggles and baby monitors

Lytro’s unusual light field technology makes for an interesting camera. The company is betting that it will get even more interesting if it opens up to applications outside traditional photography, and is now inviting developers to go wild with adaptations.

The “Lytro Platform” developer kit includes Lytro’s software, processing system and a lens and sensor. Developers can swap in, say, a sensor that works better at night or a lens better suited to seeing long distances — whatever they would like.

CEO Jason Rosenthal said the platform will appeal to anyone who needs a flexible or light imaging system, plus lots of control over the post-processing of images. He named security and defense, medical imaging and general photography as big potential markets.

Lytro’s first four customers come from diverse backgrounds:

  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will experiment with different methods for data collection on rovers and space probes.
  • A U.S. Department of Defense department will use it for new night vision systems.
  • An unnamed industrial company will monitor the health of power plants and nuclear reactors.
  • Medical┬ástartup General Sensing will incorporate it into a baby monitor.

The developer kit is available for $20,000.