Alibaba Is Using AR To Change The Shopping Experience

Let's All Go to the Lobby

The Q2 conference call provided some pretty fascinating color on the state of the business ("all the core elements of our technology required to meet production launches of display, interactive display and consumer LiDAR products in 2019 remain on track") as well as some of the business activities that we could possibly expect between now and the next call (presumably late October).

The first one was the planned publishing of new videos of the Interactive Display system. I'll be very interested to see these -- in particular if the production value is higher than what we have seen before (demos in the lab by an engineer -- impressive stuff but not produced for general public consumption). The opportunity is there for these new videos to capture the essence of the Interactive Display value proposition: "By enabling users to interact through voice, image, gesture and spatial awareness, it should be easier for them to interact with the AI platform, making it easier for the user to transact, increasing the monetization opportunities for our customers." (A pressing problem, indeed: Report: Almost Nobody Is Using Amazon's Alexa to Actually Buy Stuff.)

This quarter we have been told to expect the completion of work associated with the technology transfer to our Display Only licensee. By virtue of completing this work, Microvision's display technology becomes the licensee's technology to go and market. Additionally, $3M of NRE revenue would be earned, and the $10M license fee revenue would be recognized. A pretty big milestone in the company's history.

The new Digital ASIC is to tape out this summer which presumably means in the next few weeks. This Digital ASIC (used for high-resolution video I believe) completes the required set of Microvision components for the Interactive Display solution, including a new 1440p MEMS scanner, a new Time-of-Flight ASIC (for sensing objects and motion in 3D space), and a new Analog ASIC (for controlling the MEMS and laser feedback).

The availability of samples of the new Digital ASIC should make it possible to send new Interactive Projection dev kits to the targeted customers (called as "AI platform providers", such as Google, Amazon and Apple), something that was also described as planned for this quarter. It would seem they won't need to make very many of these kits as they are very focused and specific in what they have said they are trying to do -- get a design win for their Interactive Projection into an AI smart speaker product, from a universe of a very select few potential customers.

It's worth pointing out that the new brighter green laser from Foxconn Sharp, with 130 mW output, is sampling this month, with a planned mass production capacity of 500,000 units a month to begin in early October. Seems it would be an ideal light source for an 80-lumen laser projector.

Interested observers of developments in augmented reality will be watching the "Frontiers in Optics" conference in mid-September, featuring some of the principal folks developing the new Hololens from Microsoft, including Bernard Kress, the Partner Optical Architect, formerly of Google Glass.  Mr. Kress had an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit in March of this year, where he discussed the value of new MEMS concepts in the context of next generation displays, among many other things.

I'll also be on the lookout for more news on launches of embedded projector phones, such as the Neffos P1 from TP-Link and get a sense for the excitement around Microvision's technology from the marketplace.

Should be a fascinating couple of months here.

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