Applied Material

Things are a little hectic in the life of MVIS Blogger right now, so bear with me as I move through some pretty significant transitions in my life. Updates may be a little light in the immediate term but you can expect full MVIS Blog coverage of the 2004 Financial Results Conference Call coming up on Tuesday afternoon.

There have been a few things that I've been wanting to write about but haven't really had a chance to let the ideas formulate into the usual essay form that I've gotten used to putting out there. So, in the absence of lots of time to write, and the pretense of formality, here are some of the things that have been on my mind.

1. The 'life caching' trend I posted about a couple days ago really struck me as something pretty significant, in particular the section about Microsoft's SenseCam. Now let's take this idea a couple steps beyond snapping 2,000 still photos over the course of your day.

What I would like to see is a 'Personal Memory Assistant' (PMA) that would effectively record video from the same perspective as your eyes during your waking hours. This video could then be fed to a server for cataloging and indexing -- it would then be immediately accessible for querying and retrieval. It could be organized in sections relating to the people you're interacting with, activities you're engaged in, conversation topics, etc. Ideally this service will also perform a full transcription of every conversation you have during the day. I think this could be very powerful -- it would in effect allow people to have a much greater ability to reflect on the little activities that make up our lives every day. The PMA would also recognize people that you've met, remind you of their names and some item of interest about them so you're never caught having forgotten who exactly it is that you're talking to and how you met them in the first place!

2. I think Cell Phone TV will be a pretty decent success because people need total saturation of media at all times. And the opportunities for broadcast networks and advertisers to invade our minds while we're out of the house will be enormous. The relentless pursuit of mind share and market share will ensure that mobile TV offerings get better and better and ultimately will prove to be a pretty compelling offering that consumers will adopt. That said, everybody knows that the 2" LCD screen is not a suitable device for TV watching. And the expectation of privacy from mobile devices will mandate that it isn't a floppy OLED panel or bigger fold-out LCDs that become the defacto display standard for mobile devices. No guarantees offered or implied but I believe it will be an iteration of Microvision's microdisplay that has been demonstrated recently as the digital camera electronic viewfinder developed for Canon. It has brilliant colors, a big screen image, and the package size is the same as a few pieces of loose change. It's small. And the image is big, bright and beautiful. A tough combination to beat.

3. I don't think mobile TV is really all that compelling in the sense that it kind of defies the purpose of mobile devices -- to be something that's utilitzed while you're out and about, on the move, taking care of things. TV watching is by nature a sedentary, input-only activity. I think where there's a whole lot more value for software and service providers to offer consumers is augmented reality services.

Take the input from your PMA camera and its on-board GPS/GIS software. Identify where you are, what you're looking at. The AR software provides a layer of information superimposed on your environment that relates to your schedule and the things you need to get done. There's no reason why AR technology should be limited in use to people working on cars, factory floors, insurance estimators, etc. If it's useful for them it will be useful for everyone. Just need some time for the powers that be to realize this and commit the resources to make the devices and software that are capable of bringing this to fruition. My bet is, there will be a nationwide AR infrastructure probably on CDMA networks by the end of this decade.

Of course people will need eyeglass displays from Microvision in order for the data layer to really be merged with the environment instead of the separate 'web page' way of interacting with computers that we're used to.

The information layer is coming and MVIS investors stand to benefit. The unique capabilities of Microvision's technology ensure that it will be the display of choice for AR services. But, it's still a few years out. In the meantime we'll just have to tide ourselves over with increasing Nomad and Flic sales, the best quarter for development contracts in the company's history, and further developments of the inexorable trends of device miniaturization and portability.

4. It doesn't do much good to have insight into global technology trends if you don't position yourself to benefit. Success can only be gained by the application of insight, the taking of action informed by an intuitive understanding of what's really happening when iPods become a ridiculous sales success, Qualcomm and TI prepare an infrastructure for mobile broadcast networks, and mobile device makers start to wonder about the new types of devices they'll need to create to achieve the next phase of growth in the mobile industry. It can be hard when you're in on something that the rest of the world just doesn't seem to know about. 99.9999% of the world's population has likely never heard of Microvision. The people that have are divided into zealots (er, visionaries, that's it), haters, and the wait-and-see crowd.

It's my belief that the wait-and-see crowd won't have to wait much longer for the commercial viability of the company's technology to be validated by the marketplace. And the haters who may have open short positions will end up wishing they were in that large majority of people who don't even know MVIS exists.