MVIS Blog Person of the Month 8/04

MVIS Blog Person of the Month for August, 2004 is Microvision President Steve Willey.

Mr. Willey wins this month's award for his stewardship of the company's consumer microdisplay technology -- punctuated by the recent breakthrough that allows the company to use an array of inexpensive, off-the-shelf, surface-emitting LEDs to create a wide-viewing-angle, high-brightness, high-resolution consumer display.

"This is a major milestone in the development of color microdisplays for consumer products," said Steve Willey, President of Microvision. "With our earlier single channel architecture, we are approaching a practical limit in field of view of around 25 degrees. Now we have the flexibility of increasing display performance by adding inexpensive LEDs and writing multiple zones. This architecture gives us the potential to achieve much wider fields of view and higher resolution necessary for the higher performance imaging and consumer products we are targeting.

"The architecture evolved from our earlier work with multi-line image writing that used conventional laser sources. It's very scalable and allows us to take advantage of the benefits of declining costs of memory, processing power and most significantly, inexpensive and increasingly bright LEDs. Patent applications that cover many of the basic elements of this approach are among the most recent additions to Microvision's IP portfolio, which now numbers 102 US patents, plus over 90 pending U.S. patents and more than 300 invention disclosures. We believe the new architecture has tremendous market potential, particularly for those microdisplay applications that flat panel suppliers find difficult to address."
Canon has been very pleased with the efforts of Microvision's team, under Mr. Willey's direction, on their contracts for consumer microdisplays:

A Canon senior executive said: "Canon is pleased with the outcome of the phase completed recently. Microdisplay technology development is making good progress. Canon needs to continue this activity with Microvision to further the development activities for the commercialization of the Microdisplay, and introduce innovative imaging products."

Steve Willey, president of Microvision, stated, "We're very excited about winning this third phase agreement with Canon. It is a very significant milestone for the company and is evidence that industry giants such as Canon have completed basic evaluation of our proposed solutions and are willing to proceed with the purchase of prototypes. The recent design and process advances that we have made are very consistent with the market requirements for small, affordable, yet high-performance display solutions.

"We also believe that this next step by Canon is validation of our microdisplay product strategy to position Microvision as the 'premium microdisplay' provider. Our solutions offer image quality that is literally hundreds of percent higher than any competitive solution, offering our OEM partners the opportunity to develop new and compelling applications."
From a February, 2003 press release, Canon and Microvision Enter New Agreement:
"Annual production volumes for consumer products such as digital cameras, digital video cameras and mobile internet devices are projected to reach hundreds of millions of units annually in the next several years," added Willey. "On that basis, we believe the market for our miniature displays can reach tens of millions of units annually in that same time frame. The key challenge for this next generation of devices is that consumers are going to need small, inexpensive products, like digital cameras and mobile handsets to produce the same high quality images that we see on desktop and laptop computers today. The greatest advantage of Microvision's technology is that we believe that we can deliver superior resolution and image quality at much lower prices than competing miniature flat panel displays."
From the company's 2003 proxy statement:

Willey has been president of Microvision since 2002 and a director since 1995. He served as the company's executive vice president and an industrial fellow for the University of Washington's HIT Lab. Before that, he was an outside consultant to the company through The Development Group, a business and technology consulting firm he founded in 1985. Willey is also a director for Pro.Net Communications, AirIQ, CMT Crimble Microtest and eVenture Capital.
Microvision's valuation sure doesn't seem to factor in that the company's technology will soon be incorporated in consumer products that are sold in tens of millions unit volume annually. Mr. Willey and all of the employees at Microvision have been working diligently for years to create what will appear to many to be an 'overnight sensation'. The scope of the accomplishments of Microvision's consumer microdisplay team will be realized in time by the stock market. But those who follow MVIS closely have a pretty good idea what we've got right now. Congratulations and thanks to Mr. Willey, and the hard-working employees of Microvision who are working tirelessly to bring the dream of consumer scanned beam displays into reality.