Monday, October 19, 2009

Microvision: Opportunity of a Lifetime… in our Lifetime (Part 4)

The cost of missing out can be greater than the cost of messing up.

“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.”
 …Leonard Ravenhill

Here’s the REASON #4… to not let this opportunity pass you by and why you should quickly reposition your assets now…


It is my belief that in the coming short years, all sorts of video devices and services will dominate our communications world.

Here’s why…

Research shows that we humans prefer video communication over any other forms of communications. The reason cited is that retina is actually a piece of the brain that has grown into the eye and processes neural signals when it detects light.

What does this mean, in simple terms, to us humans… specifically for our preference for visual over any other forms of communications like sound, smell and touch? Well, this may be because our brain [in the retina] receives information first and processes it before that received from other channels [like audio, smell or touch].

May be this “brain in the retina” explains why survey after survey, the research points to our preference for “Video” over “Widgets”. Recent research survey from CES 2009 enforces the belief that “Video will continue to be the preferred means of all human communications”.

Now, let’s take it a step further and gather some information from real life consumers that are user of communications products… to establish their preferences and requirements:

• Video vs. Other Forms of Communications: Research has shown that users prefer video communication over other forms of communication [sound, smell, touch] and video will continue to be the preferred means of all human communications.

• Users Preference for Image Quality: Research has shown that users prefer wide screen, high definition, 2D/3D video with fast refresh [without motion blur] and always in focus images for all forms of video [static, streaming, and broadcast] communications.

• User Preference for Mobility: The entire world [users and service providers] is getting into the instant gratification mode and going mobile in all forms of communications and entertainment across the globe.

• Product Features Leading to Technological Convergence: Technological convergence is the tendency for different technological systems to evolve towards performing similar tasks. Today, we are surrounded by a multi-level convergent media world where all modes of communication and information are continually reforming to adapt to the enduring demands of technologies, “changing the way we create, consume, entertain, learn and interact with each other”.

Convergence in this instance is defined as the interlinking of computing and other information technologies, media content and communication networks that have arisen as the result of the evolution and ubiquity of the Internet as well as the activities, products and services that have emerged in the digital media space.

• Customers Requirements: Customers desire all digital/video devices to be low power, low cost, multi-media enabled, multi-tasking, integrated & all inclusive, easy to use, low maintenance, professionally supported and warranty serviced.

• Consumer Defined Shared vs. Private Information: Consumers desire the option [in product models or optional features] or built-in switch able flexibility in these digital/video devices to be able to switch between “shared” vs. “private” mode.

It is my belief that in the coming short years, products and services like the following will flourish…

• Pico Projectors for large Image Experience from Portable Computing and Small Mobile Devices (like laptops, cell phones, smartphones, media players, digital cameras, camcorders, etc.)

• High Definition Lamp and Pico Projectors in Home Theater for Shared Viewing Experience

• Pico Projectors in HD Mobile TV/Projector for shared viewing experience

• Pico Projectors in Mobile TV for private viewing experience…like watching TV in bed for mom and dad… and personal mobile TV/Projector for little Jonny.

• Green PicoP Projector in Mobile TV for shared viewing experience… targeting the third world countries with focus on low energy consumption.

• Display Eyewear

• Augmented Virtual Reality

• 3D and Hologram Images

• Night Vision

• Interactive Video Gaming

• Video on Demand

• Music Videos

• Visual Learning Systems & Simulators

• Video/Audio Transcription

Microvision is in the right place at the right time with the commercial availability of their laser based PicoP display engine developer’s kit [PEK] for use in multitude of above mentioned applications… besides the recently launched world’s first laser PicoP projector code named SHOWwx.

Laser based PicoP display engine specs and features are several notches above the competition… namely:

“always in focus, hi-resolution images, large size images from 12” to 100”, wide projection angle, rich and vivid colors with wider color gamut, small/sleek form factor, short throw ratio, longer battery power, simple plug n play, and movie capable (production version expected 2-3 hour battery life).”

Microvision’s PicoP display engine offers enhanced and superior specs and features compared to what’s considered desirable at this stage of Pico projection development…

• Size: The height or thickness of the projector is its most important characteristic; the technology must be able to be embedded in thin handheld devices. Both height and volume should be minimized. The initial products will have projector engine sizes ranging in height from 7 to 14 mm and in overall volume from 5 to 10 cc.

• Brightness: The brighter the better. Brightness is limited by the available brightness of the light sources, either lasers or LEDs, the optical efficiency of the projector design, and by the need for low-power operation in order to maximize battery life. Initial product offerings will be in the range of 5-10 lumens.

• Image size: In general, the shorter the distance it takes for the projector to produce large images, the better—at least up to a point. A one-to-one distance/image-size ratio (projection angle of 53 degrees) is probably a good target. The first round of products on the market will have projection angles in the range of 30-45 degrees.

• Focus-free operation: Focus-free operation is a very desirable attribute in mobile applications. It is like “point and shoot” in a camera. Unlike typical projectors used in business settings, pico-projectors are designed for mobile use (in other words, the distance from the projector to the image will likely change often).

• Resolution: Resolution can be expected to continue to grow as product technology matures. The wide screen format is generally desirable for viewing video content. Initial product offerings will typically offer resolutions from QVGA (320 x 240) to WVGA (848 x 480).

• Color: Pico-projectors typically use either lasers or red, green and blue LEDs for light sources. In both cases, the result is large color gamut that far exceeds the usual color range experience of TVs, monitors, and conference-room-type projectors. White LEDs used with color filters yield a reduced color gamut.

• Contrast: The higher the better. Just as brightness is a measure of the absolute whiteness of pico- projectors, contrast is the measure of their absolute darkness. Contrast is the dynamic range of a display, making the difference between washed out images and crisp dramatic-looking images.

• Battery life: A starting goal for mobile devices is that they should last for the length of a complete movie. This puts the lower limit at around 1.5 hours.

Laser based Pico display technology is superior to what’s out there right now… DLP by Texas Instruments, LcoS by 3M and FLCOS by Micron Displaytech. The competition believed that green lasers wouldn’t be ready for years and its cost would be excessive. They also had concerns about laser projection “speckle” and laser safety issues. It is for these reasons, in my opinion, that they did not pursue the laser pico display technology path and essentially left the laser PicoP technology to Microvision un-contested.

Microvision on the other hand believed in the green lasers as being the differentiating technology that would make PicoP display engine as superior to LEDs based Pico projection technology… and also as a serious contender, in terms of quality and brightness of images, to the lamp based projection technology.

There were several hic-ups along the way. However, after three years of hard work, anxious wait for green lasers and sweating it each passing day, and 115 issued patents later, the world’s first laser based PicoP projector was commercially launched on September 15th, 2009.

Not only that, another announcement was made [on 10/8/2009] of a major OEM purchase order as a major milestone accomplished in the history of Microvision. The stakeholders of Microvision [investors, partners and consumers] can finally take comfort in this announcement as a milestone that…

“…validates the performance and quality of our first laser projector offering. On the heels of announcing our first shipments of the SHOWwx laser pico projector, and receiving the purchase order from an international distributor, this is another significant milestone in our go-to-market strategy.” ... Alex Tokman, CEO of Microvision.

We are truly at the turning point in the history of Microvision, that some may call the “validation” phase. Because, that’s what the commercial release and the two purchase orders from global consumer electronic OEMs represent as …

• Validation of Microvision’s laser based PicoP display engine technology, its quality, its reliability, and a viable commercial fabrication & production milestone.

• Validation of performance and quality of PicoP display engine at the core of the world’s first laser based PicoP projector SHOWwx.

• Validation of Corning's green laser technology, its reliability, and a viable commercial fabrication & production milestone.

• Validation of technical and performance superiority of laser based PicoP projector as compared to other two technologies on the market… DLP from Texas Instruments and LcoS for 3M.

• Validation of consumer preference for Microvision’s PicoP projector: wide screen, high definition, longer battery life, 2D video with fast refresh without motion blur, small physical size and always in focus images for all of video [static, streaming, and broadcast] communications.

• Validation of acceptable safety standard for laser based PicoP projectors in consumer use and adoption.

• Validation of speckle as a non-issue and as virtually non-existent with Microvision’s laser based PicoP display engine.

• Validation of fundamental design flaws of Microvision competitors: low resolution images, faded colors, short battery runs, longer throw distance, and requiring constant manual focus adjustments.

• Validation of Microvision as a product company rather than just a R&D house with 115 issued patents and with many more on file.

• Validation of global consumer electronic OEMs recognizing laser based PicoP projectors as a viable and superior alternative to DLP, LcoS and FLOCS technology.

• Validation of growing demand for Pico projectors from carriers and content providers on a global basis.

• Validation of consumer demand for quality Pico projectors.

• Validation of growing demand for green lasers and the ensuing competition in green laser product arena.

Microvision is ready as a supplier of laser PicoP projectors to consumers and PicoP display engines to its OEM partners… and offers the best of breed PicoP display technology.

Is Microvision [NASDAQ: MVIS] ready for prime time SHOW time and worthy of your investment dollars… you be the judge?

Stay tuned for REASON #5… as we move forward in our journey to explore “Microvision: Opportunity of a Lifetime… in our Lifetime”

Anant Goel