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Microvision's PicoP can change the game

On January 4th, 2006 Microvision (MVIS) issued a press statement that they were going to demonstrate their "breakthrough Ultra-Miniature ''Thin Mint'' Candy Sized Projection Display" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The reaction from the news sent the stock soaring.



The technology is amazing, as shown by this savvy group of Saved by the Bell teens. Microvision's "PicoP" technology allows their ultra-thin, miniature full-color projection display to be embedded in portable hand-held devices (including cellular phones). Just look how silly and fun it is to shine an image on someone's back! I'm sure the marketing department had a field day selecting the proper teens and entire setup of "Life in a High School hallway" backdrop for these promos. Just look at these kids getting along and having fun with technology. Gone are the days of projectors and slide shows, welcome to the age of cell phone laser-light shows.

The initial excitement has cooled a bit and Microvision Inc. shares have come down in price since January. So now the question is - who will buy this technology? It's a waiting game folks, just like that unique group of teens that had to wait it out one Saturday morning for four hours. Proving that detention is still detention no matter how much time passes. Except it's going to take longer than four hours for MVIS to find some buyers, more like four months to up to a year. Imagine if you will this technology available on your Motorola Razr, your $500 iPhone, your Palm Treo, or in a few years your Dick Tracy two-way radio wristwatch. Once big companies begin to include Microvision's Pico projector known as "PicoP" in their products, just imagine what the stock price will do? Of course this is pure speculation, but all the big names were at Electronics Show in Vegas; including Apple (AAPL), Nokia (NOK), Motorola (MOT), Palm (PALM), Ericsson (ERIC), Research in Motion (RIMM),... the list is endless. This product could even show up on your MP3 player, who knows? But you can bet Microvision is talking to the big boys and if one of those companies implements their technology, the rest will follow suit quicker than John Bender (played by Judd Nelson) convinced the others to engage in illegal substances on school grounds, officially forming the Breakfast Club.

What I love about Microvision is if anything happens in that company (like if the CEO sneezes) it's all captured on the Microvision Blog run by Ben Averch. Everything you ever wanted to know about the company is there, so if you are evaluating buying MVIS's stock, it's a great place to do homework. I'm not advocating buying their stock, just take notice of the technology they developed because if it becomes mainstream, look out. Then again, MVIS could go down in flames, no one could buy their technology and a year from now they could be selling their business piece by piece. But even if the PicoP technology doesn't sell in America, that does not mean it won't be loved overseas. The EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) mobile phone market is expected to grow 12% in 2007 to reach 400 million units, and if the PicoP is only in 10% of the phones, that will bank roll the company for years. Microvision can't make a press release until the deals are final with the big boys, so this is all speculation, but if they just get one major deal, hello $5 a share.

However from an ideal stock buying view, MVIS is not a secure or conservative investment. They had a net income of -$7M for Q3 06 and if they didn't have this promising technology I would stay far away. Microvision's operating loss from 2003 to 2005 was devastating $94.8M. In January 2006 they threw Alexander Tokman into the role of CEO just six months after joining the company and continue to burn about $5M a quarter in expenses. Microvision has to become profitable before Wall Street will reward them with a higher stock price. So four months from now, if Tokman can land a big buyer for the PicoP, you can bet he'll have his moment of glory and he'll be singing "Don't you forget about me".

Article written by: Frank Lara Jr.

17 comments:

At February 9, 2007 at 5:42 PM Anonymous said...

Who said silence is Golden?

 
At February 10, 2007 at 6:34 AM Anonymous said...

this guy doesn't agree:

http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/05/microvision-unveils-tiny-projector-for-mobile-devices/

"Cool stuff indeed, but Microvision's forte is designing and building prototypes which give no indication of its ability to develop manufacturable designs which is what brings in the money.

This particular image doesn't show the huge stack of electronics required to drive and control the MEMS and lasers. Apple's 2G shuffle my ass. It also has a serious speckle problem which makes the image look like crap.

Also they don't tell you how much just the green laser costs. It will be quite a number of years before anything like this will come into the price range to be able to be stuffed into essentially a disposable cell phone. Call me back when they actually have signed a contract that guarantees them money. Until then its a pipe dream."

Is any of this true??

 
At February 10, 2007 at 8:13 AM Ben said...

1. Manufacturable designs: This is why we've partnered with two global world leading CDM electronics companies for design of IPM for high-volume manufacturing. The 'thin mint' IPM shown at CES is the first output of these collaborations.

2. "Huge stack" is a total mischaracterization. Basically we need to take a circuit board down to an ASIC chip. Electronics miniaturization is straightforward (and can happen FAST) and is done by implementing logic designs into super small ASIC chips to perform the functions we need.

3. I think the image looks awesome and so does everyone I've shown it to.

4. These laser guys know that by being part of the Integrated Photonics Module they can address a 1 billion unit per year market, that they otherwise couldn't play in. They have aggressively ramped their internal investments to meet our specification targets for price, performance and size.

Put it all together and it's a straight line to commercialization in 2008, just like we have consistently stated.

 
At February 10, 2007 at 11:00 AM Anonymous said...

I noticed the PicoP shown at the CES wasn't powered by a battery. Fraunhofer's Micro Projector shown at Photonics West wasn't powered by a battery either, and furthermore the reps at Fraunhofer said the green laser took too much power at this stage. Now I know the laser used by Fraunhofer was from the German Laser producer, but all the other laser manufacturers there mentioned the power requirements for a green laser were presently too high. The reps from Frankfurt Laser Co., that distributes the green laser from Snake Creek that the UK company Blue Light uses in their micro projector also mentioned the power requirements for this green laser as too high presently. I believe Mr. Tokmans mentioned their green laser meeting the cell phone manufacturers power requirements. ExPlay's micro projector used a battery for their demonstration. Could you explain 1. Why MVIS's PicoP didn't use a battery in at least one of their PicoPs at the CES ??(wouldn't that have been a better demonstration of how close you were to commercialization or did the size of the circuit board require much more power?) 2. How long can a cell phone battery run the projector when you get the circuit board down to an Asic Chip ? If the power usuage for your PicoP meets the cell phone manufacturers paramatures now, it seems all that is needed is to get the Asic Chip designed which you say can be done FAST. Why does MVIS say PicoP ready in 2008 then? Why not the second half of 2007? Thanks for your blog Ben, and your music. Both are first class.

 
At February 10, 2007 at 3:43 PM lighttrader said...

I would bet money the last to posts are from a guy on the yahoo board. He trys to in a nice way to trash mvis and then says nice things after. I am sure the oems know what can be done with the electronics and at this point to go the extra mile to shrink them would be a waste of time and most of all money. Time and money are critical. The profesionals at mvis are showing this to oems not every day people. In my opinion those questions are ignorant. And if I remember only Corning and Novalux have reach the goal for size and power consumption. mvis is the one who paid to have them developed.

 
At February 10, 2007 at 5:40 PM Anonymous said...

Sounded like a question from "hillerby".

 
At February 11, 2007 at 6:25 AM Anonymous said...

"hillerby" ?? BINGO

 
At February 11, 2007 at 8:57 AM Anonymous said...

To me, the hard questions have greater value than cheerleading, from which we learn nothing useful.
Let us not become like the "good news junkies" of Xybernaut.

As far as I can gather, the IPM currently is too big and too power hungry to fit in a modern cell phone. Furthermore, it appears to be about twice as thick as a "thin mint."

(And no, I am not "anonymous" above, nor am I one of the yahoo "bashers.")

-Howard O.

 
At February 11, 2007 at 9:46 AM Anonymous said...

Howard, I think you may have killed Anna Nicole, so I'm certainly not following your stock advice.

 
At February 11, 2007 at 3:05 PM Anonymous said...

Howard O.
It is obvious to me you don't want answers to hard questions! You must have an ulterior motive,why would you make such a statement claiming the ipm module is twice the size of a thin mint? Do you really think Tokman would be that stupid? Do you really think he would say that and then show all of the top oems in the world a prototype that is twice that size?You better get on the phone and call all of those people and inform them of what you have discovered! Your statement is utterly ridiculous. And by the way I believe you go by the name hillery on the yahoo board.
Len F.

 
At February 14, 2007 at 2:13 PM Hillerby said...

Howard is not me. Everyone posts here under anonymous. It is the easiest way I guess. Yes, I (Hillerby)was the one who asked the question about the power usuage and battery length. I didn't try to hide anything, and as usual those who don't like to hear any questions concerning their love (MVIS) consider asking for more information as bashing.
If MVIS has stated it meets the power requirements of the cell phone makers, why not use a battery for demonstrations? I wonder why Ben hasn't responded to these ligitimate questions if this information has been verified and reported by MVIS? I tried using other this time to see if Hillerby will be used. If it does I will use it in the future.

 
At February 14, 2007 at 2:18 PM Hillerby said...

Ben, does the new green lasers, along with the others needed for PicoP meet the power requirements for cell phone usuage and if so, what is that requirement and why isn't there any statements as to the power usuage and output from these lasers (Corning and Novalux)like the green laser specs from Snake Creek can be found on their green laser for sale?

 
At February 14, 2007 at 2:24 PM Hillerby said...

Ben, can you say why MVIS didn't use a battery for their demonstration like ExPlay did with their demonstration. It seems they are ahead of the PicoP in development by using a battery with ASIC Chip included in their demonstrations. Can you say if the power consumption and projection has been met? MVIS stockholders are saying this has been met, but it doesn't seem like that to me since a battery was not used for the CES demonstration, nor a ASIC chip. Will the development of the ASIC chip allow usuage of a battery then, but not now with the circuit board required to power it?

 
At February 14, 2007 at 2:36 PM Ben said...

I have no idea about exPlay's demonstrations so I obviously can't comment on what they've shown. They don't look very 'thin' from the pictures I've seen, though.

The answer to your question is YES, the development of the ASIC chip will allow battery usage of PicoP. This is something we're devoting a lot of resources to in 1H 2007.

Further spins of the lasers from Corning and Novalux are expected to result in ongoing performance improvements leading to reduced power consumption of PicoP and other IPM-based devices.

Thanks.

 
At February 14, 2007 at 2:51 PM Ben said...

Another note on this -- for obvious reasons I can't reply to every comment or email.

Your chances of getting a reply are a lot better if you post a name with your comment rather than posting anonymously.

Thx, Ben

 
At February 14, 2007 at 4:17 PM Hillerby said...

Now that I know how easy it is to post under my name I will do so in the future. I should have tried at first, but I wrongly assumed it took setting up some account and possible registering etc. I should have known you'd make it easy. DUH. Thanks for your replys. I know you are under restraint and can only say so much, so I value what you can say or even repeat what management has released. I take it by your answer to my question that the power consumption problem has not been met yet, but a battery can be used when the ASIC chip meets the power usuage goals. What size battery we don't know yet I guess. I still wonder if this battery consumption, when the ASIC chip is developed meeting your requiremehts, will be small enought to be embedded into cell phones using the cell phone battery, or if further development and reduced power consumption of the green laser is needed for use in a cell phone using the phone's battery? From your indirect answer (but I understood why it was a little vague) about further spins from Corning and Novalux leading to reduced power consumption my take is still that the new green laser still uses too much power in its present state to be embedded into cell phones with the IPM and all required controls etc. I may be wrong but since you didn't actually say the power usuage with the new green lasers met the handset requirements I guess that MVIS never said it or you could have repeated it. I may be off base so if I am, kindly point it out. Thanks again for your great Blog site and again for your music. Good luck with your new position, I hope you make MVIS's eyewear a great success......and yes I do own MVIS stock. I sold at $3.75 just after the CES as I was a little disappointed the PicoP was further developed, and just bought back in at $3.05 when it seems to have held the $3 mark. If it holds and gains some I will buy more. I just hope I have enough owned when you release the news all of us want to hear and the stock takes off to heights we only dream of.

Hill

 
At September 5, 2007 at 10:15 PM Marcus Barber said...

Actually I'm just interested in buying a working unit even in its existing guise. I think there is a MUCH bigger market in another field that is ready to and is less prone to battery life and size&weight issues of the current prototype format

Marcus Barber
Strategic Futurist

 

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