|Microvision Demonstrates Display Breakthrough Using Ultra-Low Power Scanning Technique|
BOTHELL, Wash., Apr 2, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Unique Drive Mechanism Could Cut Power Consumption to 1/100th of Its Current Scanner; Size and Cost Reduction are Added Benefits
Microvision (Nasdaq:MVIS) announced today that it has demonstrated, for the first time, a new "ultra-low power" technique for scanning a beam of light to enable high-resolution electronic displays and imaging systems.
The demonstration system makes use of a small chip that vibrates a tiny silicon micro mirror on a two-axis hinge system, just like one used by the company in its existing products. But the latest demonstration makes use of a new technique to actuate the hinged assembly that requires less than 1/100th of the electrical energy of the current system.
According to company officials, this is a significant breakthrough not only because a scanner using this technique may require as little as 100 microwatts (1 microwatt equals 1/millionth of a watt), but also because the technique will potentially enable a dramatically smaller package than its current scanners, and because the simplified drive system could also lead to substantial cost reductions.
With its existing systems, Microvision's unique scanning displays form an image by rapidly scanning a beam of light into a series of horizontal lines -- each line containing hundreds of individual pixels -- to build up an image in much the same way as a television tube or CRT computer monitor. This technique, called raster scanning, is commonly found in televisions and computer monitors that employ scanned electron beams, but according to the company, it is not the most efficient way to draw an image with a system that employs mechanical scanners.
"The current scanner is very efficient in the horizontal direction, because the mirror only has to swing back and forth to draw a straight line, so we can re-use a lot of stored energy and ring it like a tuning fork," said Casey Tegreene, Microvision chief technology officer. "But, to draw a raster pattern, the vertical axis can't just resonate like that, it has to fly back and stop with each scan. That requires a lot more energy than the horizontal scan."
"We've understood for a long time that if we let both axes run resonant, we could create scanners that consume next to no energy. The challenge was that this meant getting away from a raster scanning pattern and breaking new ground for imaging systems that order the picture elements in a completely different sequence. That, in turn, raised questions about image quality and artifacts. Up to now, we have been encouraged by computer models predicting that a system incorporating our newly-developed proprietary algorithms could create very high quality images," said Tegreene.
"Now we have actually demonstrated this technique in a display, and this demonstration has exceeded our expectations. We are demonstrating a display at Super VGA (SVGA 800 x 600) resolution, which is equivalent to the resolution of our current products. The image quality is excellent; especially given that this is the first time that we have actually implemented the technique."
Microvision says that its scanning displays can provide superior image quality at a lower cost than competing miniature flat panel display technologies, and that the new drive method offers the potential for added advantages in applications that require very low power. Many of the applications that the company is targeting for its miniature displays are in battery-powered, portable devices like digital cameras, camcorders and mobile Internet devices in which power consumption is an important feature. Tegreene pointed out that the actuation technique also will be important to Microvision's development of miniature scanning laser cameras that target applications in markets ranging from bar-code scanning, to industrial and medical imaging.
"This achievement is further evidence that Microvision's light scanning technology is a powerfully disruptive platform for a growing range of display and imaging applications," he said. "We are making great progress with the existing scanner drive in reducing power, size and cost, and we've got several approaches to creating very low power devices, but this approach holds the potential for a quantum improvement beyond that. We're encouraged that we can make displays and imaging systems that are smaller, cheaper and consume less power than anything out there and possibly sooner than we might have previously expected. We're not relying on this approach for any of our current product initiatives, but it's our job to enable our partners and customers, and to put as much distance as we can between ourselves and the competition, over the next several years. Developments like this demonstrate the potential of our technology to do just that."
About Microvision: www.microvision.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.
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.