Saturday, September 12, 2009

Microvision: From Here to PicoP Ubiquity

Microvision is a publicly traded company [NASDAQ: MVIS] and has “killer apps”.

It’s the “disruptive technology” called: “Laser based PicoP display engine.” It can bring about massive shifts in “technology paradigm” and “social paradigm”. And if you can ride this technology/social paradigm for long enough [like Intel did with computing], you have a very high probability of being “ubiquitous” [if not out-right industry standard] in the Pico projection space [like Intel is with its “Intel-inside” for CPUs].

In simple terms, paradigm shift is defined as: “A complete change in thinking or belief systems that allow the creation of a new condition previously thought impossible or unacceptable.” Just to make sure we're all on the same page, here's a clear definition of the phrase, which was coined by Thomas Kuhn in his ground-breaking 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:

"Think of a Paradigm Shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It does not just 'happen', but rather it is driven by agents of change."

Most of us understand the definition well. However, we tend to miss the true meaning of the statement: “It does not just ‘happen’, but rather it is driven by agents of change”. If you read carefully and do some research you will see: “those agents of change can cause micro level paradigm shifts with-in a macro level paradigm over a period of time. And in order for your product to become ubiquitous [or an industry standard], you must plan and manage for such constantly changing micro level paradigms [with-in a major paradigm] on an on-going basis over an extended period of time. I know it’s a mouthful, so let’s see what all that means first and then we will apply it to PicoP display technology…

One big example is “The Computing Paradigm Shift” that started in early 1980 when the Personal Computer was first introduced. Few years later, in 1993, John Quarterman of Texas Internet Consulting wrote in the Journal of Organizational computing…

“Over the last five years, there has been a shift from centralized to distributed computing. Timesharing and batch systems still have uses, but the large mainframe is no longer the only way to do computing. Networks have spread computing power, access, and costs beyond centralized computer centers. Personal computers have made computing accessible to many new users. Distributed computing attempts to bring the manageability of mainframe computing together with the accessibility of networked computing and the transparency of personal computing.”

According to the definition of paradigm shift, personal computing represents the macro level paradigm shift. Intel rode this major paradigm for a long time and managed it so well that AMD could not catch-up with Intel for over 20 years. And that gave Intel enough time to become ubiquitous with its CPUs in-side all of the major PC manufacturer’s product line. However, by year 2000, AMD caught-up with Intel and that’s when another paradigm shifts [call it micro paradigm] took place with-in the personal computing paradigm. For example, changes taking place within the PC paradigm were so visible…

“At the Intel Developer Forum, fall of 2005, in San Francisco, there were very few individual products or product groups that represented any new breakthrough relevant to silent computing.

But when you consider the entire range of changes in focus, product development, and marketing messages at Intel over the past year, especially as they culminated at the fall 2005 IDF, it does not seem farfetched to speak of a major paradigm shift.”

The paradigm shift I refer to is being driven by Intel in response to technological, competitive and market forces, and it has three major aspects:
  •  End of the processor clock race, replaced by multi-core processor development.
  • A focus on performance-per-watt and power efficiency.
  • New ways of assessing and ranking performance.
Intel is managing this micro paradigm shift well and has been able to still maintain its leadership in the CPUs product space. However, for a while, during the 1996 thru 2002, Intel got too comfortable with its successes with Pentium 4 and it did not see the micro level paradigm shift coming. During this micro paradigm shift from “clock speed” to “multi-core”─ with-in the personal computing paradigm─ AMD made major progress [against Intel] in capturing market share and almost ran away with the keys to the chicken farm.

Another example is: “the change in thinking created by Just-in-Time that views inventory as a liability, not an asset.”

Now let’s talk about PicoP display technology…

Microvision’s PicoP display engine technology can cause major shift in “technology paradigm” and “social paradigm”. Example of technology paradigm shift would be:
  • Your 2”x 2” screen [on cell phone, smartphone, iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.] now projects to up to 100” high definition quality images [pictures, movies or streaming videos] on any surface… on the fly… always in-focus… and at miniscule power drain on your battery.
  • Your 2”x 2” screen [on digital camera, camcorder] now projects up to 100” HD quality image on any surface… on the fly… always in-focus… and at miniscule power drain on your battery.
  • Your Laptop comes with built-in projector for up to 100” HD quality image on any surface… on the fly… always in-focus… and at miniscule power drain on your battery.
  • High Definition Mobile Projector/ TV that could provide large screen HD TV experience to a billion people in energy starved China and India. In the U.S. and Europe, it could easily replace millions of power hungry LCD/Plasma TVs in every room.
  • High Definition Mobile Projector/ TV that could provide large screen HD TV experience on the ceiling for late night video or movie watching from the comfort of your bed.  In the U.S. and Europe, it could easily replace millions of power hungry LCD/Plasma TVs in every bedroom.
Example of social paradigm shift would be: “the dramatic changes in the way, and how often, we view and share multi-media information at work and at play, and network [and collaborate] with associates, friends and family.”

Since the beginning of 2007, Microvision has accomplished quite a few major milestones on its way to becoming a well managed and financially sound company with a technologically feasible product line. Microvision has now partnered with some world class technology companies [including Motorola and Corning] to commercially bring the most disruptive [and paradigm shifting] product line to the market that consists of billions of potential users worldwide.

That’s a mouthful, so let’s break it up in order to make some logical sense and explain where I am going with this…

Microvision’s core PicoP technology is weaved into five product offerings…
  1. Vehicle Displays: for better driving experience and safety in automobiles.
  2. PicoP Projector Displays: brings big screen to small devices. Project up to 80” HD color projection for applications such as streaming video, movies, digital TV, high resolution photographs, and surfing the net.
  3. Wearable Displays: a see-through, high-resolution display platform that enables lightweight and fashionable eyewear displays for mobile devices. Color Eyewear platform allows mobile users to access their personal content and services while keeping their vision of the outside world free and clear, letting mobile users stay on the move.
  4. Military Displays: is used across various branches of the U.S. Military including the U.S. Army, Air Force, and U.S. Army Reserve.
  5. Barcode Scanners: features a patent-pending, low-cost, shock-resistant, silicon MEMS scanning mirror engine.
As the saying goes on Wall Street: “Always Do Your Homework before Investing in the Latest Technology”!

The second rule [first being “killer apps”] to investing in emerging technology is simple: “Do your homework and your own due diligence. Before you invest, analyze the entire industry and the company carefully—and don’t buy the stock just because it’s the next big thing.”

The PicoP display engine can be embedded in hundreds of different products representing a huge market share for entire product line-up. It has the potential of adding billions of new dollars to Microvision—expanding what I like to call the “halo effect” from the PicoP display modules to the rest of Microvision product line. That’s why I’m so excited about the PicoP Projector code named SHOWwx that is getting ready for release in 2009…and that it will have a major ripple effect for the rest of Microvision products.

In summary…

Microvision has “killer apps”.

Each of the five commercial products that Microvision is offering [or will be offering soon] use at its core the PicoP display engine technology that has the potential to cause massive paradigm shift in its own space of product applications.

Anant Goel