Random Thoughts

Well, the Annual Shareholder Meeting appears to be on the books at long last. That's always exciting. There's really nothing quite like seeing this technology for yourself for the first time. It's a total 'light bulb going on' type of experience. You can just kind of intuitively feel what the potential is and the kinds of products that are sure to come out of further refinements to the technology.

You have to remember that at current prices, every dollar of future cash flow that Tokman and the technology platform are able to generate -- from now til the end of time -- is valued at just about $30M. This basically makes no sense. The company is valued as if there is no killer pipeline of exciting products like HUD, Picoprojector and Eyewear products, no work for the US Defense Department, no chance that Flic could really gain traction.

It seems to be valued like a dog that has had its day. The market is saying that they simply do not see any chance that the Microvision platform has economic value, or will ever become successfully commercialized. The apparent conventional wisdom would seem to be that neither the technology platform itself, nor the company's 100+ patents on light scanning MEMS devices, nor the GE six-sigma blackbelt leadership can create products or embedded solutions that have value to customers.

It is not investment advice to suggest that should Microvision's IPM become an embedded display solution inside of mobile phones, automobiles or other vehicles, or should the company's eyewear platform take hold, in the military or for consumer/industrial markets, one could reasonably expect to see pretty good returns from investments at today's prices.

Pretty good as in astronomical/inconceivable.

With the total market value of the company being $64M, this means that every $64,000 invested (at current prices) gets you ownership of 1/1000 of the entire company.

If we consider for a moment a future universe where HUD, PicoP and Color Eyewear are successes, that 1/1000 of the company could be worth tens of millions of dollars.

A friend of mine (and fellow MVIS fanatic) recently made an observation that has stuck with me for the last couple of weeks. He said, "We're not playing for small marbles here, Ben."

And that's really what it's about. It's about the opportunity to have a life-changing experience, maybe once in a lifetime. To participate in something truly extraordinary -- the unlocking of a waterfall of economic value that is being held back by the current display technologies -- which are all physical, fixed-pixel devices that take up space in the real world.

So at a certain point, it's a question of belief. Do you believe in the technology, do you believe in what the new leadership, and everybody at Microvision can accomplish.

Speaking of 'belief' and the 'real world', I promised you guys an update on Second Life and the intersection of virtual and augmented reality.

I got to play Second Life for about an hour or two, which is obviously not enough time to get too deep into it. It's pretty obvious to me that trying to really explore the game world is a huge/overwhelming time commitment that I can't make at this point in my life. (Married, job, kids = no Second Life) Which actually is fine with me. When it comes to gaming what I really enjoy are sports games, in particular golf and football. (I challenge any of you to Madden or Tiger Woods Golf on PS2 or XBox.) I have been known to plow through a dungeon crawling RPG or two on occasion.

But when I read that $50M in US dollars has been spent on virtual products and 'services' in Second Life, I was really taken aback. Clearly, this is a lot of money. When I run this by people, they will initially double-check. 'You mean, they spend real money to buy clothes for a game character?' Yes. But it's not just clothes, it's virtual real estate (one article mentions that somebody makes $160,000 annually from buying and then reselling real estate within the game), virtual gambling, virtual furnishings for your virtual house, and of course a good amount of that $50M is spent in Second Life's virtual red light district.

It seems to me that even at $50M in annual transactions, this is just barely scratching the crust. As graphics get more realistic and bandwidth improves, Second Life 'residents' will have more compelling virtual things (and, er, experiences) to spend their hard-earned real money on. And it will reach critical mass as it gains mainstream exposure, and more people realize the benefit of participating in virtual worlds, be it distance learning, virtual office work, or just social networking and online communities.

I think the implications of this thing are just huge and I recommend everybody check it out even for just a little bit. It's free and pretty easy to get going with. (It wasn't that long til I was going back to Tiger Woods 2005 though...) It's something I've thought about a lot, even after only playing for an hour or two.

So the nexus between virtual and augmented reality?

Let me sleep on that some more.