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Microvision Announces New Light Scanning Display Architecture for Simulating Wide Screen

Monday March 28, 9:35 am ET

BOTHELL, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 28, 2005--Microvision (Nasdaq:MVIS - News), the leader in light scanning technologies for displays and imaging, announced today that it has filed for patent protection relating to a novel display system architecture that would use an array of low-cost LEDs to enable very high resolution displays with extremely wide fields of view. Field of view is the term used to describe the apparent size of the virtual image created by a near-eye display. According to Microvision, consumer electronics companies are interested in wearable displays that can simulate the "immersive" viewing experience of a movie theater or a very large - 80 to 100 inch - high resolution television. Such systems have to be both practical in size and affordable in order to appeal to the mass market.

Wide field of view near-eye display systems based on miniature flat panel displays are currently available in the market, however they are both costly and cumbersome because of the complex and expensive optics that are used to magnify the image to cover such a wide angle. These systems, most often associated with virtual reality, are typically seen only in laboratories and occasionally in museums or arcades because they cost thousands of dollars and often weigh 4 to 6 pounds.

"This potential architecture represents a major breakthrough in the design of near-eye display systems," offered Microvision President Steve Willey, "because the approach overcomes optical limitations that are fundamental to any system based on a miniature screen. Essentially the optical design of such systems is a close analogy to a wide angle lens system for a camera, and comprises several - as many as six - complex lenses in a single enclosure that is often several inches deep. As a consequence, you end up with a system that is not only bulky and unsightly, but also one that has a lot of the weight in front of the head. Microvision's new system design is pretty radical and we think represents a potential breakthrough technology. Our invention would use an array of conventional, inexpensive LEDs (light emitting diodes) and a very simple optical system consisting of only one or two elements to achieve the combination of more compact size, reduced weight and dramatically lower cost that are key to consumer electronics applications. As a result of the LED array, the system is designed to afford significant image quality advantages in brightness, resolution and color quality. We have previously used LED arrays to demonstrate displays containing more than 9 million pixel elements."

Consumer electronics companies are interested in wearable display systems for portable media of all kinds. Such systems could be used to watch films, access the Internet, or play computer games in 2D or 3D with the immersive feeling of a big-screen cinema or a really large television.

"What is particularly exciting about this," Willey added, "is that there really is no other way to achieve this effect in a reasonable package using miniature flat panel displays. Our prospective customers have done considerable work in this area and found that fundamentally you're up against the constraints of optics. Because of how our current system works, we have the ability to simplify and fold optics in a way that others have not discovered. It appears that this is potentially very important to developers of media and gaming systems because it would not only overcomes the problem of small displays in handheld devices, but it could get one into the realm of high-end cinema and simulation. I think it's something that someone could really lie back and enjoy on a long flight."

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