The Lytro camera employs a breakthrough technology called a microlens array to gather a significantly larger amount of data with each shot. The photographer, or others, can later sift through this data using computer tools, adjusting the focus point of the picture in post-production. The concept was first proposed by the founder of Lytro, Ren Ng, in his computer science dissertation in 2006 at Standford University. The paper won the Association of Computing Machinery’s worldwide competition that year. Now Mr. Ng is working to translate the idea into a saleable camera technology. The possibilities for the digital camera market as well as the 3D market are promising.
For the world of art this could mean cameras, and later, video cameras, that capture an order of magnitude more visual information, allowing the artist to explore different focus points later in the studio, or allowing the viewer to do so interactively in an installation.
Read more in this New York times article by Steve Lohr about the Lytro camera.