Innovator Ren Ng

Who He Is: The 31-year-old rock-climbing enthusiast and Stanford University computer science Ph.D. is a pioneer in light field photography, a process that captures all the light information in a camera’s field of view (every angle, color, etc.), allowing for pictures that can be manipulated, then edited in extraordinary ways.

His Big Idea: Light field photography usually requires upward of 100 digicams, but Ng managed to capture the technology into the pocket-size Lytro camera (on sale by the end of 2011) that offers two revolutionary features: lightning-fast picture-taking (even in low light) and the ability to focus pictures after you take them, so later you can decide: Do you want those distant mountains as your subject? Or that nearby flower? “It’s camera 3.0,” Ng says.