Monday, November 1, 2010

Microvision: Hyper Growth in 2011

Rapid Development in Native [Diode] Green Laser Technology Sets PicoP™ Projector into Hyper Growth for Year 2011

In the emerging market for pico-projectors, as well as, other display techniques such as head-mounted display (HMD) or head-up display (HUD), the ideal light source would be a laser due to its capability to deliver highly saturated colors in the widest possible gamut.

Additional desirable features include focus-free operation, improvement in wall-plug efficiency─ reducing power consumption for battery operation, lower cost and high production scalability. The great advantage of laser projectors is a consistently sharp, always-in-focus, true-color, high-contrast image irrespective of the projection distance and projection surface

As we all know too well, the availability and cost of green lasers, both diode and SHG, has held back the progress in ramping-up production of laser based PicoP projectors.

However, there are three pieces of news, two from this morning and one from a year ago, that put the commercialization of laser based PicoP projectors from Microvision on steroids… for hyper growth in the year 2011.

First the old news from August 2009…

Success in the laboratory: direct emitting green InGaN laser with 50 mW

OSRAM has set a new milestone for mobile laser projection

OSRAM Opto Semiconductors has achieved a major breakthrough in the laboratory with its direct emitting green indium-gallium-nitride laser. It already achieves an optical output of 50 mW and emits light in true green with a wavelength of 515 nm. Compared with semiconductor lasers based on current technology that operate with frequency doubling, direct emitting green lasers are more compact, offer greater temperature stability, are easier to control and have higher modulation capability.”

Here’s the link to the Osram web site…

Over the last one year there have been several articles and white papers published indicating rapid improvement in the development of diode green lasers getting out of the lab approaching commercialization.

Today’s news from Corning confirms that…

Press Release
Source: Corning Incorporated
Monday November 1, 2010, 7:00 am EDT

CORNING, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW - News) today announced its results for the third quarter of 2010.

In the press release Corning stated…

“In other matters, Corning has decided to discontinue its development and commercialization of synthetic green lasers. Given the rapid development of native green technology, the company concluded that the market for synthetic green lasers is limited.”

Here’s the link to the press release…

This piece of news further confirms that rapid progress has been made with diode green lasers. And Osram, for example, has overcome the previous limits of the InGaN material system. At the pre-development stage─ in August 2009, the company succeeded in manufacturing the first direct emitting green laser diode from the InGaN (indium-gallium-nitride) material system with a high optical output. The diode emits a “true green”, which is defined by the spectral range of 515 to 535 nm. In this range, efficient high-quality semiconductor lasers have been commercially available only as frequency-doubled versions. In the medium term, however, direct emitting green lasers could replace frequency-doubled lasers for numerous applications. They are easier to control, and also offer greater temperature stability, a smaller form factor and higher modulation capability at several 100 MHz.

Now we come to the last piece of the news that confirms the rapid development of diode green lasers… and that puts the commercialization of laser based PicoP projectors from Microvision on steroids for hyper growth in the year 2011.

Here we go…

Press Release
Source: Microvision, Inc.
Monday November 1, 2010, 7:00 am EDT

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Microvision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS - News), a leader in innovative ultra-miniature projection display technology, today announced it has successfully integrated the first “direct green” laser samples from two leading manufacturers into pico projector benchtop prototypes. This achievement represents an important first step toward the commercialization of PicoP® display engines using direct green lasers. The PicoP display engine utilizing a direct green laser is expected to offer significant commercial advantages in price, size, power, and performance.

“We are very pleased with the performance of these early direct green laser prototypes,” commented Sid Madhavan, Microvision vice president, R&D and Applications. “These encouraging results give us confidence that direct green laser diodes will be capable of meeting the performance requirements for integration into our PicoP display platform.”

Simplicity leads to lower costs
Microvision’s current pico projection engine uses red and blue laser diodes and a frequency-doubled “synthetic” green laser to create a full color image. Synthetic green lasers are infrared lasers that are manipulated to reduce their wavelength to produce a green light. This conversion process creates a complex system of multiple components held to tight tolerances making manufacturing more challenging.

Direct green lasers are capable of producing green light natively, greatly simplifying laser design and manufacturing processes. Direct green lasers are expected to be manufactured in a manner similar to red and blue lasers available today, facilitating lower cost and rapid scalability to commercial quantities. The combination of smaller size, lower power, and lower cost make direct green lasers an attractive alternative to synthetic green lasers for Microvision’s mobile display solutions.

Historically, availability of synthetic green lasers has been constrained due to their complexity and the existence of only two manufacturers. Today, there are at least five companies worldwide that have announced they are developing direct green lasers for late 2011 to mid 2012 commercial introduction. Industry researcher Yole Development forecasts that the direct green laser market size will reach about $500 million by 2016 and should represent more than 45 million devices.

Here’s the link to the press release…

Some would say that this press release from Microvision is damage control in view of Corning’s decision to discontinue its development and commercialization of synthetic green lasers.

But, I disagree… because of two simple reasons:

First: Corning has decided to discontinue development and commercialization of synthetic green lasers… but that doesn’t mean they will stop production of what’s on order and contracted with Microvision.

Second: Currently, SHG green laser diodes are available on the market from Corning, Osram and QD Laser… and each have their own proprietary solutions. Now if you take Corning out of the equation… you still have two other suppliers of SHG green lasers in the interim period from now to mid 2011.

The bottom line is…

“Next year, the commercialization of laser based PicoP projectors from Microvision gets into fast lane for hyper growth in the year 2011.”

We just have to wait and see how things unfold from here?

Anant Goel