5/15/2002 6:32:00 AM
BOTHELL, Wash., May 15, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Microvision, Inc.
(Nasdaq:MVIS), the leader in light scanning technologies, announced today that
it has begun fabricating a new micro mechanical (MEMS) optical scanner that is a
full 60% smaller than the devices that it is currently producing for a range of
electronic display and imaging products.
The company’s silicon micro scanner chips vibrate a single tiny (approximately
one square millimeter) mirror suspended inside a small frame, at a very high
frequency. By bouncing a beam of colored light off of the mirror, the chip can
be used as a miniature projection display, delivering full motion,
high-resolution video in products ranging from wearable displays to handheld
mobile internet devices. By coupling this beam projector with a light sensitive
electronic chip, the same micro scanning system can be used as a kind of
miniature electronic camera for applications like bar-code reading, endoscopy or
high magnification machine vision systems.
The company is currently marketing a wearable display product called the Nomad
Personal Display based on a scanner chip that is 7 millimeters by 13
millimeters. With its new design the company has reduced the size of the chip to
only 6 millimeters by 6 millimeters. As a result, the area of the chip is
reduced from 91mm to only 36mm allowing more than 3 times the number of scanners
to be produced on a 4-inch silicon wafer.
The new design is the result of an Office of Naval Research program entitled
Battlespace Information Display Technology (BIDT) that was subcontracted to
Microvision by Concurrent Technologies Corporation. The objective of the program
is to develop technologies to enable very lightweight and low power wearable
displays capable of improved resolution for a variety of potential combat
applications, and to deliver solutions that can be leveraged into commercial
markets as well.
According to Dr. V.G Veeraraghavan, Sr. Vice President for Research and Product
Development at Microvision, reducing the scanner’s physical dimensions will not
only have an impact on reducing the size of the display engine, for both
military and commercial products, but is also a key driver for reducing cost.
“With this new design we will be able to fit 156 scanner die on the same wafer
that today holds only 50,” said Veeraraghavan. “Since the cost of the wafer and
the wafer processing are roughly the same, that means that each new scanner will
cost roughly 1/3 of the cost of the current scanners, if the yields are
According to the company, reducing silicon area is one of the keys to achieving
cost reductions for any microchip. Microvision says its micro scanning display
is already much smaller compared to miniature flat panel displays of comparable
resolution, and that the new design will further extend that advantage.
In addition to being much smaller, Microvision’s chip — with its single mirror
— is a much simpler chip compared to miniature flat panel displays, which must
have half a million or more tiny features to provide high resolution. As a
result of this simplicity, the company says that it can produce wafers with very
few defective devices. Such “high yields” are another key component in reducing
the cost of microchips.
“We can produce a lot more displays per wafer because of the smaller area,” said
Rick Rutkowski, Microvision CEO. “And we can compound that advantage with
improved yields to enable a mix of cost and performance that is disruptive in
According to Rutkowski, many emerging markets for miniature displays require a
mix of high performance and low cost that has been difficult to achieve with
miniature flat panel technologies.
“Most of the miniature displays in the market today are very low-resolution
displays, typically producing only 60,000 color pixels,” Rutkowski added.
“That’s a small fraction of the resolution that we’re accustomed to on computer
monitors. Because of that, use has been limited to things like viewfinders for
camcorders and cameras. We believe that going forward the big demand will be for
displays of much higher resolution, because they will enable the ability to view
the same program files and media content that we look at on desktop monitors.
But the real key is to provide dramatically increased resolution without
increasing the cost of a miniature display. We believe we can drive down the
cost curve very aggressively because of fundamental advantages in both silicon
area and yield. This latest milestone is encouraging evidence that this strategy
The company indicated that it is producing scanners with the new design to
support compatibility with its current method of driving the scanner as well as
with a new ultra-low power drive method demonstrated recently. The company
expects to continue work on the new scanner design under the BIDT program this
year, but has not yet announced when it will begin to produce the new design
About Microvision: www.mvis.com
Headquartered in Bothell, Wash., Microvision Inc. is the developer of the
patented retinal scanning display technology and a world leader in micro
miniature optical scanning technology for display and imaging applications. The
company’s technology has applications in a broad range of military, medical,
industrial, professional and consumer information products. Nomad is a trademark
of Microvision, Inc.
Forward Looking Statement
The information set forth in this release includes “forward-looking statements”
within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as
amended, and is subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. Certain
factors that realistically could cause results to differ materially from those
projected in the company’s forward-looking statements are set forth in the
company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as
filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Matt Nichols (media), 425/415-6657
Brian Heagler (investors), 425/415-6794
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