Leica Camera invests in Light, the maker of the L16 multi-aperture computational camera


Light is the maker of the L16 multi-aperture computational camera that did not get very good reviews when it came out a few months ago.

Shortly after the first reports came online about the new Light 9-cameras smartphone camera, Light issued a press release today announcing that SoftBank and Leica Camera invested $121 million in the company:

Light, the leader in advanced computational imaging, today announced a Series D funding round of $121 million, led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. The renowned Leica Camera AG also participated in the financing. Light’s groundbreaking imaging platform enables machines to see like humans do, using sophisticated algorithms to combine images from multiple camera modules into a single high-quality image and enabling highly-accurate 3D depth extraction.

“The Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of technology leadership, precision engineering, and craftsmanship. Since the birth of its first digital camera in 1996, Leica has embarked on a path of digital photography technology evolution. With the rapid development of the computational photography, partnering with the innovators at Light ensures Leica to extend its tradition of excellence into the computational photography era,” said Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Leica Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

Here is the full press release:

Light Welcomes SoftBank And Leica To The Family

Light Raises $121 Million From SoftBank Vision Fund And Leica Camera AG

Light, the leader in advanced computational imaging, today announced a Series D funding round of $121 million, led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. The renowned Leica Camera AG also participated in the financing. Light’s groundbreaking imaging platform enables machines to see like humans do, using sophisticated algorithms to combine images from multiple camera modules into a single high-quality image and enabling highly-accurate 3D depth extraction.

Welcome to the era of the software-defined camera.

In this era, pocketable, connected cameras can reconstruct the world in three dimensions and superhuman detail, cars are able to perceive the objects around them without the need for special sensors, and robots are able to thread the elusive needle autonomously.

Light’s highly accurate depth mapping can be used to create rich and complex environments for a wide-range of applications including augmented reality.

The new funding will allow Light to expand the reach of its imaging platform beyond consumer photography and into security, robotic, automotive, aerial and industrial imaging applications. Later this year, the first mobile phone incorporating Light’s technology will be available to consumers around the world. It will shatter the expectations of mobile photography.

“Light’s technology is a revelation, showing that several small, basic camera modules, combined with highly powerful software, can produce images that rival those produced by cameras costing and weighing orders of magnitude more. We’re just getting started. Having the support of SoftBank Vision Fund as a strategic investor means this technology will see more of the world sooner than we could have ever imagined,” said Dave Grannan, Light CEO and Co-founder.

“Light is a world leader in computational imaging. By replacing mechanical complexity with digital sophistication, they have been able to drastically reduce the size, weight, and cost of traditional cameras. This has paved the way for a whole new era of intelligent imaging applications” said Akshay Naheta, Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We believe that the opportunity to proliferate these technologies across other data-rich imaging platforms means that Light will completely revolutionize the world of mobile imaging and we are excited to be supporting the team in realising this ambition.”

“The Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of technology leadership, precision engineering, and craftsmanship. Since the birth of its first digital camera in 1996, Leica has embarked on a path of digital photography technology evolution. With the rapid development of the computational photography, partnering with the innovators at Light ensures Leica to extend its tradition of excellence into the computational photography era,” said Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Leica Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

“It is humbling to have the support of the most iconic camera brand in the world. We are excited by the overwhelming potential of the collaboration with Leica,” said Dr. Rajiv Laroia, Light CTO and Co-founder.

The SoftBank Vision Fund investment will be made in tranches, subject to certain conditions.

Light’s foundational technologies, including its Lux Capacitor camera control chip and its Polar Fusion Engine for multi-image processing, are licensed for use in applications like smartphones, security, automotive, robotics, drones, and more. To learn more about opportunities to deploy Light’s powerful technology visit: light.co/solutions

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