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Opsys' logo. Click here to visit the Opsys website! Kodak's OLED displays getting closer to market!
(Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 15:22 EDT)

British company signs license for organic light-emitting diode technology...

Eastman Kodak Co.'s Organic LED display technology, which we first told you about back in February 1999 is now nearing the market, it seems. The company has today distributed a press release noting that it has signed its first European licensee of the technology, also known as OEL (organic electroluminescence)...

Through the license, United Kingdom-based Opsys Limited now has non-exclusive rights to Kodak's small-molecule OLED technology, including manufacturing processes and device structures. The company initially is planning to create a reflective backlight suitable for use with current LCD displays which have a user-selectable backlight. The new OLED backlight promises to be thinner, more efficient, more uniform and to use less power than current LCD backlight solutions, and will reflect all incoming light when the backlight is disabled without the need for a transflector.

The company plans to follow this with the introduction of a true OLED display which removes the need for LCD technology altogether. This display will be a small, color passive-matrix type... OLED displays, such as the one which impressed us so much at Comdex last year ("The Digital Focus @ Comdex Fall 2000 Report", November 14, 2000), promise a number of benefits for digicam users once the technology starts to be used in digital cameras. Since no separate backlight is needed, the displays use less power, extending battery life. They're also thinner, allowing for some reductions to camera size and weight, work over a greater temperature range, provide faster refresh rates and better color, and offer much greater viewing angles than conventional LCD displays. Opsys also predicts lower production costs for the displays, which could contribute to lower digicam prices...

A comparison of an LCD with Kodak's Organic EL display. Note that the OEL remains bright and shows true colors, where the LCD is barely visible. Copyright (c) 2000, Michael R. Tomkins, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!At the same time as the Kodak announcement, Opsys has announced that it is expanding its research facility and preparing to open a new manufacturing and research facility near Silicon Valley, California, with initial production scheduled for late 2002. A licensing program for manufacturers interested in Opsys' OLED technology and products is planned to commence next year. These announcements suggest that within another 1-2 years, OLED technology could finally be reaching the digicam market, where we confidently predict it will be very welcome!

Opsys is the first European licensee of OLED technology. Kodak has already licensed OLED to a number of other companies, including its development partner Sanyo Electric Co., and Pioneer Corp., TDK Corp. amongst others. The image on the right, taken at Comdex Fall 2000, shows how the OLED display remains visible and true to color even at an extreme viewing angle, whilst the LCD display next to it is hardly visible.

Original Source Press Release:

Kodak Licenses OLED Technology to Opsys Limited, of UK

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 16, 2001 - Eastman Kodak Company today announced that Opsys Limited, with headquarters in Oxford, United Kingdom, has become the first European licensee of Kodak's innovative organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology.

As part of the agreement, Kodak will grant Opsys a non-exclusive right to use its small-molecule OLED technology, including manufacturing processes and device structures, to manufacture and sell passive monochrome and color displays for a variety of applications enhanced through high-quality image display. The agreement also gives Opsys the opportunity to purchase Kodak's patented OLED materials for use in manufacturing the displays.

OLED technology, also referred to as organic electroluminescence (OEL), is a self-luminous display technology based on thin organic films that emit light when stimulated with an electric charge. The emitted light can be individual colors of red, green or blue, or they can be combined to create full-color, high-resolution image displays. OLED displays provide a clear and distinct image viewable from a very wide (165-degree) angle and require relatively little power.

As a result, OLED technology is positioned to pave the way for a revolution in display devices, from thinner and lighter handheld devices to wall-mountable television systems. It will enable more devices to display and use pictures, accelerating the use of pictures as information in the emerging infoimaging market.

"We're pleased that Opsys is our first European licensee," said Leslie Polgar, president, Kodak Display Products, Eastman Kodak Company. "Its commitment to meeting the growing demand for flat, lightweight, brilliant displays nicely dovetails with our goals for our small-molecule OLED technology and helps foster growth in the infoimaging industry."

"We are using our outstanding research capabilities to become a world leader in the development of OLED technologies for a wide range of applications. Incorporating the technology we have now licensed from Kodak and our own advanced OLED developments, we will be manufacturing 1 to 5-inch diagonal displays for portable communications devices, such as cell phones, pagers and PDAs, from the end of next year, from our new production facilities in Fremont, California," says Opsys CEO Michael Holmes.

Pioneered by Kodak in the late 1980s, OLED technology and its applications have generated more than 50 Kodak patents. Besides Opsys, licensees of Kodak's OLED display technology include Pioneer Corporation; TDK Corporation; Nippon Seiki Co., Ltd.; eMagin Corporation; Rohm, Ltd.; Ritek Corporation; TECO Electric & Machinery Co., Ltd.; and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., a Kodak joint-development partner.

About Opsys
Opsys Limited was founded in 1997 to exploit ground-breaking research emerging from the University of Oxford. With production facilities in Fremont, California, Opsys is now an international group, which is developing and will manufacture and license cutting-edge technology for brighter, thinner organic electroluminescent displays (OLEDs) for portable communications devices. Opsys has over 30 highly qualified scientists working in laboratories at its base in Oxford, UK, and in sponsored programs at leading universities in the UK. Opsys' researchers work closely with the leaders of sponsored research programs to put innovative technologies onto an industrial development footing.

For further information, please visit http://www.opsysdisplays.com.

About Kodak and Infoimaging
The agreement with Opsys will help drive the growth of two key infoimaging categories-infrastructure and devices. Infoimaging is a $225 billion industry created by the accelerated convergence of image science and information technology. Infoimaging unites three closely related imaging markets - devices, infrastructure and services/media - enabling consumers and businesses to use images more easily as a fast and effective way to communicate. Infoimaging presents significant new revenue opportunities for any company that delivers value through the marriage of information and images.

For further information about Kodak technology, readers can go to
(Note: Kodak is a trademark of Eastman Kodak Company.)

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