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Anonymous Said...

Here's a really great comment from my recent post about Color Eyewear that I'd like to do my best to answer...

As someone who's been on the edge on investing in MVIS for quite some time, I'm also interested to know just how good the core technology is, as in does it blow everything else out of the water? Living in Europe, I obviously haven't been able to see any prototypes for myself.

There must be a big difference between what Microvision and companies like eMagin are doing. They're basically just using tiny LCD screens, right? The question is, will Microvision's Color Eyewear provide a viewing experience comparable to or even transcending television? The resolution would have to be HD, not to forget great contrast and field of vision.

I'd just like to have some kind of an idea of where Color Eyewear in its present form stands, qualitatively, when compared to other ways of getting information into the human visual cortex. Also, what can we expect in the future, say the next five years?

Thanks for this question. There are some big differences between what Microvision is doing and what every other display company is doing. The most fundamental being that we are scanning beams of light temporally and spatially to create a virtual image. There is no screen with our technology, just beams of light that are moving at very fast speeds and appear to create a persistent image on your field of view.

At the heart of our technology across all of our product initiatives is the Integrated Photonics Module, which is a tiny projector engine that contains red, green and blue lasers, electronics, optics and a MEMS scanner in an ultra-thin package. The same IPM components and packaging (with some amount of reconfiguring) can be leveraged across the MicroHUD (automotive and aerospace head-up display), PicoP (embedded or accessory full-color ultra-miniature projector) and Color Eyewear (lightweight fashion eyewear with embedded display) product lines.

So, the IPM is key to our strategy and to our competitive advantage. Every other display technology has a physical, fixed-pixel substrate that is so big by so tall and takes up real estate in the real world. As the mobile phone has eclipsed and subsumed all other forms of consumer electronics, the need is becoming acute to deliver a big screen experience without compromising the small, thin, pocketable form-factors that really drive demand for new models of cell phones.

Now there are technologies that unfurl displays from inside a tube, and there are other things like this that we pay close attention to. But we feel that the ultra-miniature laser projector is the most elegant way to get big experiences into super-compact form-factors. And there is strong market pull for our solutions that tells us we're on the right track.

Another key to our competitive advantage is that we use spectrally pure lasers. Lasers can be bright enough for viewing in all ambient lighting conditions, unlike LCDs, and they enable us to display an extremely wide color gamut.

As I mentioned in my prior post, we intend to couple our IPM with a new optical design that will allow us to assemble lightweight, fashionable eyewear with an integrated, embedded display engine, in both see-through and immersive configurations.

We believe that technical and performance specs are extremely important to creating a valuable user experience -- and just as important are the ergonomic, fashion and usability concerns that have inhibited adoption of other forms of wearable displays. We'll meet these concerns head on by innovating and taking into account the real-world needs of customers, whether they be videogamers or cell phone users, or industrial workers. The focus will always be on usability and having a holistic view of the user experience of the entire product -- the union between the eyewear hardware and the content/application software infrastructure.

Over the coming weeks, we'll unveil our newest IPM design at CES in Las Vegas. At the same time, we're also working on a contract for the government that is bringing us closer to a see-through display solution with a form-factor of a pair of fashion eyewear.

Looking out over the next five years, we expect to have Color Eyewear successfully launched across a variety of segments, in a variety of configurations. We also expect the same IPM that powers Color Eyewear to power head-up displays in a variety of cars and for our PicoP personal projector to be designed into mobile phones by the leading handset OEMs.

Now, a lot of work has to be done to get us there, and there are no guarantees of success in any high-tech endeavour. But we feel a lot of confidence about the path we're on and about the value we can bring to anyone who needs a big display in a compact form-factor.

10 comments:

At November 27, 2006 at 8:45 PM Anonymous said...

Ben:

At CES in January, are we going to see something new in the form of a prototype PicoP in market ready or near market ready coniguration? Or, just an improved protype that is closer to, but not quite what we're shooting for on the consumer market side?

 
At November 27, 2006 at 10:08 PM Ben said...

Hi,

It's my belief that the CES PicoP will be the first prototype IPM in the targeted form-factor for the embedded cell phone application.

There will likely be some expected performance enhancements to this prototype prior to being production ready.

I'm really excited to see what the response is to this new design. It's my belief that demonstrating a wafer-thin laser projector with the same image quality that's in our current 'cigarette pack' PicoP prototype could set some powerful events in motion for us.

 
At November 28, 2006 at 12:08 AM Anonymous said...

Will there be any other Microvision product/projects displayed at CES? Specifically, the latest autmotive HUD prototypes?

Thanks.

 
At November 28, 2006 at 7:17 AM Seth said...

If I recall correctly, one other huge advantage of the IPM over existing fixed pixel (LCD) technologies is NO LENSES/NO FOCUSING.

Is this correct? The lcd based displays require lenses to properly focus the image on the retina. Where as the IPM paints one pixel at a time and thus doesn't require an optical system to focus/adjust the display to the 'screen'.

 
At November 29, 2006 at 9:38 AM Ben said...

Hey Seth -- in the PicoP configuration, you're absolutely right that there's infinite depth of focus and no projection lens, compared to LCD projectors which have a big lens on the front and need to be focused.

Our HUD and Eyewear products require some different types of optics since we're projecting either onto a windshield or onto a pair of glasses.

 
At November 29, 2006 at 11:47 AM seth said...

I was wondering, (I understand the answer might not be for public consumption yet).

With the PicoP, how do you adjust the image size? I have a DLP front projector for my home theater, and the optics have a zoom. Put if the PicoP has no lens, how do you adjust the picture to match the distance from the proj to the 'screen'?

Do the pixels 'spread out' size-wise based in the projection distance to match the position of the pixel? What I mean is, as you move the picop away from the screen, the effective distance between pixels grows. Do the pixels 'expand' to fill up the inter-pixel gap? I am presuming all this, since pixel placement is based on the 'angle' between the pixels and the laser is scanned across/down the image.

Is this question clear?

Seth

 
At November 29, 2006 at 12:44 PM Ben said...

Seth,

I'll do my best to answer this -- the image size depends on how close the 'screen' or other surface is to the PicoP projector. If you hold up a piece of paper in front of PicoP and move it backwards, the image will get progressively larger and larger as you go.

I believe that the pixels expand in the scenario you describe, but interestingly there's never any pixelization, since we are scanning the image, 'pixels' exist only as a sofware algorithim to drive the scanner.

The more noticeable effect is that at larger image sizes (ie, wall size) the brightness of the image is decreased somewhat compared to say, when PicoP is projecting an image the size of a laptop screen. This size image from PicoP is VERY bright and quite extraordinary.

 
At November 29, 2006 at 1:07 PM Anonymous said...

The eyewear uses lasers? Will that be dangerous for the eyes?

 
At November 29, 2006 at 10:52 PM Ben said...

the lasers are very low-power -- remember that the ambient environment is putting a lot more light on your retina than our laser-based displays are. MVIS displays are safe for all-day use.

 
At November 30, 2006 at 7:31 AM seth said...

Plus the laser is 'scanning' across/down the retina. So no one part of the retina gets a continuous exposure.

I compare this to a lighthouse. The light is much too bright to look at directly, but since it sweeps across your field of view, it 'blooms' for a second when you can see it straight on, but then quickly moves of center and your vision is preserved. (Although as I understand it, the MVIS laser is not strong enough to do damage, even if it did stay in one spot.)

Seth

 

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