Welcome to Karl Guttag on Technology

Welcome to Karl Guttag on Technology (KGonTech for short), a blog about technology with an emphasis on technology for image generation (including microdisplays, pico projectors, and video/image processors) and human-computer interfaces.  A big part of this blog will cover pico projectors technology, but I also plan to discuss the technical creative process, high tech startups, market strategy, and the early days of home computers and video games.  I will rotate the subjects, but there will definitely be more about pico projectors including the technology behind them and their applications.  While the header of this blog is kind of busy (so I have been told), it is kind of a word association with topics and devices I have been associated with to give you some idea as to what I might be covering.

Lately, I’m best known for my work in pico projectors and LCOS microdisplays as the former Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and one of the founders of the Syndiant.  Prior to becoming CTO of Syndiant, I was an independent inventor and the CTO of another LCOS startup.  The largest part of my career was with Texas Instruments (TI) where I became the youngest TI Fellow in the history of TI (at age 33) for my work on Media Processing DSPs, Graphics Processors/Accelerators, Video interface , Synchronous DRAM, Video DRAM (VRAM), two 16-bit microprocessors, and the Video Display Processor (VDP, the first “Sprite Chip”).    So I have seen the electronics industry first hand from both a large company and a small startup company perspective in my 34 years in the industry.  I also have to date 142 U.S. patents so I am quite familiar with the inventing/patent process.  For more details on me see “About Karl Guttag.”

What I hope what will make this blog different is that I first hand technical experience in designing devices and understand the much of they underlying technology.  For example, there are a number of sites such a PicoProjector-Info (see their interviews with me on Jul 22, 2009, May 20, 2010, and Dec 5, 2010 that proved to be controversial) that cover the news on pico projectors, but with my experience I can interpret and explain what is going on and separate marketing hype from technical reality.    I will try and boil the technology down so that the average person will be able to read and understand it.  I like to say that a most of my career I had to translate between the engineers doing the “real work” and the management whom didn’t have time to understand the technical details.

Now for the elephant in the room; after 7 years as a founder, Director, and CTO of the startup Syndiant I have decided to leave (effective December 16th).   I want to make it clear that Syndiant had some great technical people and some great technology and one of the best team of technical people I have ever worked with.  I also firmly believe there will be a big volume market for pico projectors with LCOS.   Furthermore everything I have been able to gather, Syndiant is the technological leader in small high resolution display devices and as of right now it is the only company with a very small HD microdisplay that works (and produces some fine looking images).  So please don’t take my leaving Syndiant as any sign that pico projectors or LCOS is not going to happen, because I’m still a big believer in LCOS based pico projectors and particularly the future of laser illuminated LCOS pico projectors.

If you have a web site related to pico projectors or any of the other topics discussed in this blog, please email me at info@kguttag.com and I will be happy to add you to my links.  Additionally, I may be able to contribute articles or content to your site.

Some housekeeping:  I will be very happy to answer questions where I am able and not bound by NDAs.  This is your chance to get technical questions answered.   I also more than welcome dissenting points of view or opinions to my own in the comments provided they are civil.  If you have something you would like to be discussed please write info@kguttag.com and I will see if I can do it.   At least initially, I plan to get about 4 or 5 blogs a week as there is a lot to write about.  Please sign up to be emailed when new blogs are posted.

And one last thing; while I have been high tech industry since 1977, I am new to blogging so I may miss out on some of the blogging formalities.  Also as this is a one-person blog, please excuse the not so occasional typos (if the spelling and grammar checkers don’t catch the errors then you will see them), if you find them, let me know and I will correct them.



  1. Bob Skinner says:

    I look forward to your insites.

  2. Dave Snyder says:

    look forward to your posts

  3. Martin Hillerby says:

    What was the reason you left Syndiant?

    • KarlG says:

      Sorry, but it is probably best I not get into the reasons for my leaving. I wanted to make it clear that it was not due to a loss of faith in LCOS technology or pico projectors. I think there are good technical reasons for this belief that I hope to outline in my coming blog entries.

  4. Martin Hillerby says:

    What was the WPE of Soraa’s direct green laser used in your prototypes last CES? How does the cost compare to LEDs presently? What’s the highest lumens you can project using Soraa’s latest direct green lasers as well as red and blue with your panels? Your opinion on how LBS can generate high lumens (20+)and keep a Class2 Rating would be interesting to read. And finally did you get the feeling Soraa would be able to meet it’s stated commercial launch in the first half of 2012 and if so how many do you think they can produce each month and at what price per 10,000 or more?

    • KarlG says:

      First, I plan on having a blog entry/entries in the near future to discuss lasers projectors in more detail. While laser are clearly the future for all projection, one has to be realistic about the time frame on when they will be practical.

      I can’t get into the specific details of any one company’s lasers due to NDAs. But I think it is clear that direct green lasers are probably at least 2 years away (and most who know would say this is generous) from being practical in high volume applications, be the projectors laser beam steering (LBS) or LCOS with laser. You have to look at the WPE, the wavelength, lifetime/reliability and the cost/yeild and right now the direct green lasers are deficient in all these areas. The maker sometimes solve one problem like wavelength only at the expense of efficiency.

      The laser companies may be in what they call “commercial production” in 2012 but this does not mean that they are practical for volume applications. I’m very long term optimistic about lasers, but that optimism does not mean the will be practical for volume projector applications in the next two year.

      I don’t think there is any evidence that LBS can be class 2 at greater than 20 lumens, to the contrary, Dr. Ed Buckley has produced a number of well documented papers on the subject. Worst yet for LBS, the cell phone makers want class 1 which limits LBS to about 1 lumen, yet Fujitsu has announce a 40 lumen laser-LCOS projector in a laptop that is 40 lumens.

  5. I wish you much success in your future work. You are certainly an authority on pico projection. I look forward to seeing what you publish!

  6. Ron Mertens says:

    Good luck in your new ventures Karl. I’m sure this blog will be an exciting one to watch…

  7. JonE says:

    I’m excited to see your starting this blog. Your blog may be a historical record for future business historians and students who want to understand how this important commercial technology evolved. I hope you keep it up through the era.

    It makes sense that it will take some ears for the DGL industry to figure out how to get DGL’s to a point where they have the right lumens, low cost, and power drain, do you think that there are some early-adopter uses right now, and that there is sufficient supply/cost-levels for these early adopters? Whereas DGL use “at early scale” might be 20 million units, when the cost/capability problems are better solved, do you think there is an early-adopter market that’s far smaller, but likely to emerge right away?

    • KarlG says:

      Not to burst you bubble (OK, maybe it will burst you bubble), but the direct green laser makers are tying to get to 100K units per year of usable products and I doubt is will happen in 2012.

      They won’t even state publicly a 10,000 piece price, the lowest level of volume production. What they sometimes give is a hazy like “when we get 1MU or 10MU per year they will cost X” but what they wont say is that that price ramp from 10K to 10MU is a killer. Doing the math working your way from 10K to 100K to 500K to 1MU to 10MU, you have to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of lasers to get to the 10MU piece price so you better have very deep pockets and rich customers or else you have to be more patient and wait.

      As best I can tell, they are still figuring out how to reliably build even a few “good” lasers. Then they have to ramp up production and that will likely take several years.

      Nichia is in production with a “direct green” that is 515nm (it needs to be closer to 532nm) but it it technically worthless for making a high volume embedded pico projector in terms of cost, efficiency, and brightness.

      The question is when will green lasers be sold at a price, with the right wavelength, and are bright enough that they can spin up the market. Based on my 34 years of semiconductor experience and reading the “tea leafs”, I would say it is more than two years away (an a lot of people who know more than me about lasers say it is going to be longer).

      • Martin Hillerby says:

        “Nichia is in production with a “direct green” that is 515nm (it needs to be closer to 532nm) but it it technically worthless for making a high volume embedded pico projector in terms of cost, efficiency, and brightness.”

        And yet in your own side by side comparisons Nichia’s laser used seemed to brighter than the others, especially Soraa’s. In another picture at the bottom of this report those same side by side comparisons show Sorra as being much brighter and colorful. Could you explain the apparent discrepancy and why this wasn’t mention back then?…>>>. http://www.picoprojector-info.com/files/picoprojector/CES%202011%20- %20A%20Photo%20Tour%20of%20Syndiants%20Suite_20110113%20(Press).pdf

        • KarlG says:

          I wouldn’t go off of a picture plus we didn’t have a change to tune everything equally. None of those projectors was very bright or power efficient. This was a “technology demo” and the point was to show that there were 3 companies with direct green lasers. And all the lasers were “lab prototypes.”

          515nm is a poor wavelength for making a good color space. The “green” looks OK, but you can’t get a good yellow (you basically go from green through a muddy yellow to red with mixing 515nm green with red). The wall plug (electrical Watts to light Watts) is still pretty low and then you have to consider that 515nm has 29% less lumens per light Watt than 530nm (so derate the WPE by 29%). Then you have to consider the cost of the lasers which aren’t cheep.

          • Martin Hillerby says:

            “Then you have to consider the cost of the lasers which aren’t cheep”

            “They won’t even state publicly a 10,000 piece price”

            MVIS doesn’t know the price yet, could you tell us how you know the price of DGLs “aren’t cheap”? Was is just your experience and opinion, or did the laser companies tell you a price.

          • KarlG says:

            By Martin Hillerby, “MVIS doesn’t know the price yet, could you tell us how you know the price of DGLs “aren’t cheap”? Was is just your experience and opinion, or did the laser companies tell you a price.”

            Its worse than that. They can’t really quote a price right now because they haven’t solved all the issues with making a viable product so they don’t know what their costs will be. They improve one parameter but then loose on a different one. This is not like making yet another CMOS CPU or ASIC.

            They are making great progress, but the they still have a ways to go to make a device that can seriously displace LEDs in any volume in pico projectors.

  8. brandon says:

    Who exactly are you, Karl? You could just be posing as some kind of expert on the matter. I’m guessing you are short on most of the companies out there making pico projectors. Stop spreading rumor.

    • KarlG says:

      You probably should read the “About Karl Guttag” link in the top right hand corner of this page. You can also do a web search on my name or do a patent search. I am opinionated, but I try to back it up with facts.

      Your “guess” is a total falsehood. But on the off chance you are not a “pumper” for some stock, perhaps you could enlighten me with what “rumors” you think I am spreading. My guess is that is that what you consider to be a “rumor” is something you don’t want others to know.

  9. JonE says:

    Karl, thanks so much for your recent response. I’m still interpreting it; it’s so fact and information filled. It’s a real benefit to the interested public to have your blogging — I’m following it with great interest and I am sure you are building an interested readership.

    • KarlG says:

      I’m starting to work on a series of posts on the basics of lasers. I don’t want to get too technical, so I am going to try and boil it down so the average person can understand it.

      I’m very bullish on lasers in the long run, but I think there have to be reasonable expectations as to how soon direct green lasers will be ready for high volume applications. There is one company, who shall remain nameless, that I think has people people setting totally unrealistic expectation for the cost and efficiency of green laser. I don’t think they are doing anyone a service.

  10. James Lupino says:

    Hi Karl,

    Looking forward to your blog on lasers, picoprojection, etc; hope you can help us mild-technies to understand how to understand the electrical power > optical power > lumens. I still have difficulty with that conversion.

    Those of us that have been in the pico industry know you are a true expert in the field; we’ll look forward to the dialogue to come.

    • KarlG says:


      Actually the conversion is pretty simple and is going to be discuss in my first article on laser illumination. Real quickly:

      Electricity and light are forms of energy measured in Watts. If you have a 10% WPE (wall plug efficiency) laser, then if you put in 1 Watt of electricity, you get 0.1 Watts of light at a given wavelength. Laser and LED makers often measure their output in “Watts.” So the next step is to cover “Watts” a measure of power into “lumens” which is a measure of how humans perceive light.

      “Lumens” uses what is known as the “photopic” response, or in layman’s terms, the human perception of brightness. Simply put, the eye perceives brightness differently at different wavelengths. Over the years people done studies and produced standard tables (see the article reference below) that translate Watts at a given wavelength into lumens. The tables vary a bit from study to study but they don’t differ that much.

      Green light at 530nm wavelength has about 589 lumens/Watt, but at 515nm it only has 415 lumens/Watt or 29% less lumens. A 640nm red has only 120 lumens/Watt and a 450nm blue is only 26 lumens/Watt. You need the red and blue to get color balance but they don’t add much, particularly the blue, to the lumens.

      Another big factor is getting a good “white balance” and a good color space. If you start with 515nm green you need more red to get near white and with 515nm green your green looks “green” but the yellows are very poor.

      As said above, a 515nm green has 29% less lumens per Watt compared to a 530nm green so you basically have to de-rate the efficiency of the green by over 29% (including extra red for color balancing). Generally 532nm (or close to it) is considered the optimum “green” for making a projector in terms of efficiency and color space. The human eye is most sensitive to 555nm but this is a yellowish-green color that is not good for the color space (for one thing, there is no way to get green at all if this is your only “green”).

      For more on Lumens and conversion you can do a search on “CIE photopic” or look at the article below:

  11. Bill kennedy says:

    Hello Karl G,

    Neat Blog. As a long time investor in a small company called Microvision I ran across your blog on one of my routine searches looking for any updates on DGL production. Your timeline seems to conflict with many articles that I have read over the course of the last year or so. I could post links but I’m sure you can find them easy enough. I guess only time will tell. After checking into your background I’m curious about your take on LCOS V.s. MEMS? A majority of material I have read seems to suggest the industry is leaning heavily on MEMS. Was this a potential reason you decided to exit Syndiant? I can only imagine frustartion… At anyrate I look forward to your updates and reply.

    • KarlG says:

      Would you please cite which articles my timelines are in conflict with? Personally, I think you may be misleading yourself or someone else is misleading you as to what they wrote with at best wishful thinking. I think that some peoples reading of information is very colored by their investment in Microvision. I want to see direct green lasers sooner too, but wishing will not make it so. Note that vague statements like “volume production” could be 10,000 units at $100 a piece, but you are not going to get into high volume product with that. I have yet to see anyone give a 10,000 piece price and availability publicly (maybe Nichia could do it with the 515nm blue-green laser), no less a 100,000 or 1MU price and availability. The laser companies are making progress, but they are still a long ways from making a green laser that is practical for building a even even a small volume embedded pico projector.

      I think that your reading is a bit slanted by your investment. DLP and LCOS could use much more affordable LEDs so they are waiting until lasers are affordable to use them. The only company in production with a LBS projector is Microvision and they apparently had to sell them for hundreds of dollars less than they cost to make, not exactly a good business. It should be a clue that something was wrong when Microvision had to build the whole projector themselves and then sell direct and sell through distributors at a big loss. Making it themselves was both amateurish and desperate; note that Syndiant and TI both made their components and then sold them to brand names that you have heard of before. The performance spec’s of Microvision’s projectors are horrible, they had only about 2 to 2.5 lumens per Watt or about 1/3rd to 1/4th the lumens per Watt of LED based projectors, and they were much dimmer, with much worse images (speckle and other artifacts).

      Quite frankly Microvision was a total non-factor (absolutely zero) in why I left Syndiant. They are not now, never were, and probably never will be a factor in the pico projector space in my technical opinion. We never once had to seriously competed with Microvision for a socket and I doubt that DLP has either. The unavailability of direct green lasers today simply hides all the other very serious technical problems they have. They were supposedly going to be successful with Second Harmonic Green lasers; what happened to that? Today’s direct green laser have lower performance (WPE and wavelength) than the second harmonic green today.

      • Mike says:

        do you believe they are a fruad organization just stringing investors along?

        • KarlG says:

          I’m not a lawyer nor an expert in SEC rules. If anything they seem to me to tell a lot of half-truths which have some truth to them but it is what they leave out that is critical. What this constitutes legally, I don’t know, but as an engineer it bothers me.

          For example, they say that there will be green lasers in production in 2012 which is true, but what they leave out is that the ones that will be available are totally impractical for building a pico projector due to the wavelength, efficiency, and cost. This is why you see all the emphasis on HUD right now as it does not have the stringent laser requirements of a pico projector.

          Another example is they announce some big order for their products, but what they don’t say is that the order could be cancelled without penalty (at least, that is what appeared to happen).

          Another example, they say that “if synthetic green lasers cost X then diode green lasers will cost 1/10 of X.” What they leave out is that this probably won’t happen for several years.

          Maybe not lies, just not the whole truth. They then have an almost religious and unquestioning following that runs with these half-truths and even embellish them.

          • Mike says:

            Thank you for the quick response, I guess it is a wait and see issue. I believe with the market opportunity for this embedded type product and the money to be made by the green laser sales this will now start to progress much quicker because money will flow into development. Just my opinion.

  12. Larry C says:

    Thank You for your informative blog. My question is why would Pioneer enter into a developmental agreement with microvision if their technology is sub standard or better yet unavailable for commercial use due to DGL availability and cost. Pioneer has shown a HUD prototype and it appears to have garnered much enthusiasm and interest. In addition microvision’s has opened a technical center overseas. Why? I find it conflicting that microvision shows progress only to find out through your blog that this is all for naught. PS I am a fan of all the technology related to this field (LED LCOS etc.)Thanks

    • KarlG says:

      I don’t know all the details, but from what I can tell the HUD is a low volume test the market concept. Do you really think a lot of people are going to put these on their dash boards when the technology to do it without lasers and much less expensively has been around for years? But this could be argued is speculation, the rest of my response will address the technical aspects.

      But then why pick HUD over a pico projector if the big volume application for Microvision is Cell Phones? I comes down to some science. The 510nm green laser that is available from Nichia is a poor wavelength for making a projector in terms of color (it is very poor with yellow). This laser is also produces very few lumens per Watt, but then they are connecting it to car battery rather than a cell phone. The size of the HUB module is large so they can have big heat sinks to dissipate the heat from the inefficiency. The laser also does not put out very high lumen’s which it not necessary for an “optically aimed HUD” with a limited sweet spot (eye box) for viewing.

      Most layman probably think that the HUD is shooting an image on the windshield that you are seeing directly like a normal projector but that is not how it works (see Microvision Paper linked to below for diagrams — there is some good information in this paper along with some marking spin). In the Mvis-HUD, they have a large set of optics (see paper) focusing the light into the eye box. Because the light rays are aimed in a smaller region in space (the eye box) rather than flooding the whole room as in a normal projection, they need far less lumens.

      The bottom line is that the current direct diode lasers are totally impractical (wrong wavelength, inefficient, and way too expensive) for building a pico projector in 2012 so they had to find a low volume application where they might work in 2012 so they could “hide” the problems and maybe sell some. My expectation is that like the ShowWX it is going to be too expensive for what it does (and maybe you will be able to pick them up on a fire sale a year later like the ShowWX).

      Link to paper: http://www.microvision.com/pdfs/MV_WhitePaper_v.4.pdf

  13. Nosredna says:

    I look forward to more posts from you. Your posts have so far been extremely informative and unbiased. I wish you much success with your new blog.

  14. James Lupino says:

    Hi Karl,

    Was wondering if you’ll be commenting in the future about the better 3D approaches with pico-projectors? Will LCOS or DLP be the better panels for 3D? Active vs. passive glasses? Do you see a market for pico-projector based 3D? Low cost must be a driving factor. Your opinions on this topic would be of interest.

    • KarlG says:

      With active glasses, I would think DLP would be best due to their switching speed. Even the faster switching LCOS is probably not fast enough. It should be noted that 2 years ago at CES the flat panel TV makers were all talking active glasses but the then last year they were all talking about needing to be passive due to all the issues with active glasses (for example, if you have a Superbowl party say, are you going to own 20 pairs of glasses at $100 each, and will they all be charged up for the whole game?). So the sense I got last year is that active glasses was losing some favor. It seems that active glasses 3-D is more applicable to movie environments with only a few people.

      I think LCOS has a big advantage in passive glasses. The best way today to do passive glasses is to have two panels with polarized light, one for each eye. LCOS cost less and it is already manipulating polarized light. You can mount two panels, one for each eye, on one set of optics for a purpose build 3-D projector or stack two projectors and only add one “half wave plate” (90 degree filter) or if you want to use REAL-D type circular polarization, then a circular filter over each projector’s output. The downside is that polarized 3-D requires a silver/aluminum screen that preserved polarized light.

      In the long run I there there is a lot to be said for the “Dolby 3-D” which uses two sets of color primaries (different sets of red, green, and blue for each eye). It supports passive glasses, does not require a polarization preserving (silver/aluminum) screen, and is not affect at all if you tilt your head. I expect that this will become more popular with laser projection.

      The economic problem is that 3-D and low cost work against each other. Basically 3-D doubles most of the optical costs in one way or the other (either more complicated optics and two panels or requiring shutter glasses). So it will be a while before 3-D can be “low cost.”

      Another way to go would be 3-D near-eye/head-mount glasses with a panel for each-eye. There are the usual pros and cons with near-eye/head-mount.

      Let me add that the whole issue of needing any type of special glasses and 3-D in general in a home environment has all kinds of “use model issues” if you look at the way people normally watch TV. It does not work well for example if a person it lying down on a sofa or wandering around the room. It is not like a movie theater where your a essentially locked upright in a seat for the whole movie.

  15. Larry C says:

    Karl will Syndiant reach the holy grail for sales by embedding a Syndiant projector in a cell phone anytime soon? If not soon when? Microvision is said to be very close withe the latest advances from Osram’s DGL team. Any thoughts on embedded cell phone timelines for either company. Thanks!

  16. KarlG says:

    I can’t get into specifics about Syndiant’s plans, you need to contact them.

    I don’t think any company will be embedding pico projectors in a cell phone in a big way anytime soon, certainly not with direct diode green lasers. There is a chance you will see some LED and LCOS embedded product. They can meet some price points but the brightness is the big issue.

    Based on my information which I think is good, I believe you and/or Microvision is at best engaged in wishful thinking if you think they are going to have embedded pico projectors in any kind of significant volume in 2012. Please see my comment on December 10, 2011 at 10:49 AM above about what I think are “half truths.” What Microvision appears to be doing is backing up and going at HUD because it is so much less demanding on the green wavelength, efficiency, cost, and size than embedded cell phones.

  17. Martin Hillerby says:

    “Syndiant’s CTO is a big believer in HD pico projectors – he says that Syndiant are already working on these, and expect to sample a module later this year. These will go into volume production in 2011”


    Karl…>>> “as of right now it is the only company with a very small HD microdisplay that works”

    Could you tell us why it appears Syndiant won’t make this target for volume production you mentioned earlier? Does it have anything to do with funding issues preventing development or is it technical issues only?

  18. KarlG says:

    I can’t go into all the details, but there were two main issues. One was that as a startup money was a little tight and we had to focus some on shipping product for 3M and Philips. The second was that we realized we needed to be a bit more radical in the design to drive down the power per pixel and cost of an LCOS subsystem to be ready for the embedded HD market. Thanks to some very good work by the engineers at at Syndiant, they were able to pull off the more advanced design.
    Then there is the old saying that “it takes 90% of the effort to get the first 90% of the job done, and then it takes the next 90% of the effort to do the last 10%.”

  19. Nosredna says:

    Karl, you wrote that the current direct green lasers would not be usable in embedded pico projectors. Would they be usable in standalone pico projectors? Are the harmonic (frequency doubled) green lasers still being produced for pico projectors and are they getting cheaper? What do you think of the green lasers from EpiCrystals (http://epicrystals.com/products)?

  20. KarlG says:

    I’ve met the Epicrystal people several times and I very much like them personally, but I have not used their technology and I have never seen detailed spec’s from them. My understanding is that their bandwidth is broader than other frequency doubled lasers but not as broad as the direct green lasers so I would think they would have speckle that is in between that of a direct diode and other frequency doubled lasers .

    They have a “high speed switching” frequency double laser than these are generally lower efficiency and with lower power output than ones that are lower speed switching such as Spetralus. Right now their web site states they have or will have a 60mW 532nm green laser for $45 in 10,000 piece quantity. They don’t give the WPE, the temperature stability, or the date when you can actually order 10K units at $45 a piece (I don’t know — I haven’t talked to them since June).

    Based on the 60mW alone you are talking about netting about 10 to 15 lumens to at most with a laser scanner. You can probably be brighter with LEDs and LCOS or DLP costing closer to $2. If you are talking “stand alone” you really want a “product” today to have over 30 lumens and preferably over 100 lumens. So even if everything I don’t know about the device is is good (no gotcha specs), the speckle is acceptable, you are not talking about being a seriously competitive end product.

  21. Jon E says:

    Karl, I want to ask a question that probably requires you to simply repeat what you’ve already explained — but for a reader who’s smart-challenged.

    (Disclosure: Like some who have asked you questions, I am an MVIS shareholder. I want to hear and understand all the information, including the bad.)

    — You make the points that MVIS has been uncompetitive almost to the extreme of being out-of-sight-and mind to their competitors. My view on this is that you must be right, because everyone has been selling product, and, except for a few devices recently, MVIS hasn’t. So, from a current-in-market standpoint, MVIS “is” a non-factor. Am I understanding your point/view?

    –You say that only reason that MVIS self-manufactures it own device is that no manufacturer can buy MVIS’ engines to produce a Show-X type product , and make a profit at current market prices. Your view also seems intuitively right about this. Is it, in fact, also likely that MVIS is losing money on each unit it sells — is there any more light you can shed on this?

    — You seem to say that MVIS’ technology, combined with the best-of-class of DGL’s as they will exist within the next couple of years, will always have a wimpy maximum lumens because of both safety and power requirements. Is this a correct interpretation of your views? If so, is this also a reality for any small DGL/laser-based technology or is there something actually flawed, relatively to competitors, of MVIS’ patent set/technology?


    • Jon E says:

      Karl, there’s one other question I should have included. Your comments on the lead time for DGL’s to scale is based on a vast foundation of knowledge that I’ll never have, and so I don’t and have no standing to dispute it. One data point that seems inconsistent with your view, however, is that Soraa just raised $80 million that seems to be heading towards mostly production capabilities rather than big jumps in technology researchers. Wouldn’t this suggest that Soraa has a DGL that it feels is ready to scale to large unit numbers, at a cost that it’s customers feel they can pay (and profitably produce end-products)? Again, I am not questioning your view, but trying to fit this one data point that seems like an outlier to your many other well-reasoned ones.

      • KarlG says:

        Jon, your questions are just the type I am happy to answer and willing to debate. I would like to encourage questions not related to beam scanning and Microvision because as I have written or been quoted many times, they are a “non-factor” in the market today other than having spent a lot of money marketing their technology.

        Regarding “MVIS being a non-factor” I think you pretty well summarized my position. Before you even get to image quality and brightness, it was very clear to everyone in the industry that lasers for beam scanning were flat out too expensive. Microvision’s CEO was even quoted that they hoped to get the cost of he projector and electronics down to $100 (some time in the future) for a projector module at a time when cell phone companies were telling me that $30 was too expensive.

        Microvision’s stated purpose was to build and sell the device and/or and optical engine, but not a whole final product. Building a final product is very expensive due to having to pay to have everything designed, manufacturing set up, and then the big expense of buying all the materials to build the products. It requires another level of cash as well as expertise in areas outside of the companies “core competency” of building the device/engine. The resulting product is generally very expensive to make, the cost of the component is very expensive because you don’t have the buying power/leverage of an established company, and the feature set of the end product is less than the market expects because you don’t have and/or cannot afford all the expertise. Thus you have the very expensive ShowWX entering the market orignally at $549 ($999 if you wanted it earlier and bought the special edition) for a 10 lumen projector with no media player, flash input, storage, and (originally) no HDMI connection and VGA required another $50 for the custom cradle. Basically you have more of what others would consider to be an engineering prototype being sold as a final product.

        I have seen other companies try this in the past and it almost invariably causes their cash burn rates to skyrocket making their problems much worse. It would be different if the technology was so great that everybody wanted it and you decided you want to make the whole product yourself to get all the profit because your intent and purpose was to be an end-product company. But this was clearly not the case with Microvision.

        Since Microvision is a public company, it only takes some simple calculations with their financial statements to see that their cost of goods sold was much higher than their revenues.
        While maybe a little bit of a caricature of what I have written about laser beam scanning future, you do summarize my position. There are definitely problems with beam scanning beyond just the cost and availability of direct green lasers. Personally I feel that the LBS companies are almost hiding behind the fact that the lasers are not available as a “temporal excuse” (one that goes away with time) so that people will think that the green laser cost is their only problem which it certainly is not.

        Due to time and the fact that I don’t want my blog to be that much about laser beam scanning (as it has a very small but very dedicated following), I can’t get into all of this right now (but I hope give more technical details over time), so it will have to suffice for now that LBS is one of those things that sounds great if you only look at it superficially, but looks a lot worse if you fully analyze it. There are a lot of “devils in the details.” Since I am an electrical engineer with a lot of experience and have knowledge as well as access to tools for measuring the devices I am able to analyze below the marketing level.

        Microvision has by their financial records lost over $400M selling the “sizzle” of laser scanning. They have talked about “goals” of 1Watt, but have delivered the ShowWX which took about 5 Watts for 10 lumens, a very long way from their “goal” and the worst of any pico projector I have measured at the time.

        I don’t want to get into a legal opinion as to their patents, but it would seem obvious that if laser beam scanning proves to be impractical (like I think it will be), then the value of their patents would be substantially less. Note that Motorola sold 195 patents they acquired from Symbol related to LBS to Microvision for something like $2M and much of that in Microvision stock. Patents on a technology that is not selling well generally are usually not worth a lot.

      • KarlG says:

        As Mark answered before I got to it, you first have to realize that Soraa is making lasers and LEDs. They use some of the same equipment and facilities so this is likely a shared investment. Next you have to understand that while $80M may be a lot of money for typical start-up, Soraa is building semiconductor fabrication facilities and hiring top quality researches which is very expensive. You also have to realize that it can take time for that money to turn into finding solutions to improving yields/costs.

  22. Mark says:


    It’s pretty clear that the Soraa investment is because of the potential of the technology for energy-efficient solid state LED lighting.

    • Jon E says:

      Karl (and Mark,) these are excellent answers. Thanks.

      As an investor, I think the debate over how fast DGL’s will be in the market at scale and at barely acceptable pricing is a bit beside the point. They’re coming, whether next year or in five years. While the longer DGL’s take to arrive, the less survival chance MVIS has (and the more survival odds less-cash-drain businesses like Syndiant have ,) I realize that even those in the industry can’t always know the ramp-up plans of the various DGL’s competitors. I also view the “price point” issue as also less critical, because we know the price will start higher and trend lower, and consumer early-adopters will have to pay dearly for their products, just as it’s always been with calculators and computers and flat-TVs.

      The real question is whether MVIS’ technology is DOA even when DGLs do arrive, as you and even MVIS’ management acknowledge. In prior discussions Paul Marganski ( picopros.com ) has stated that he believes that MVIS’ technology will provide for a competitive manufacturing cost-advantage over everyone else. You seem to be suggesting that there already are competing technology solutions that will enable DGLs to be incorporated in direct competing products to MVIS that are just as good, and cheaper to manufacturer. By “just as good,” I mean products that can be rolled-into small devices, where weight, mass, and energy optimization are key. Is this a correct summary of your view? Do you feel you can say which/some of those technologies that are superior?

      As you suggest, MVIS management and their shareholders have confused the promise of the future market with MVIS’ ability to get it’s share of this market, when it does arrive. It’s as if I were to walk around excited about all the money I was going to make as soon as humans start excavating minerals on the mood, even though I have a flawed technology and not sufficient capital to excavate competitively, relative to NASA and billionaire-financed private ventures; MVIS is merely doubling down on filing patents for a dumb solution for an exciting market, and it’s shareholders are closing their eyes on the ride.

      Is this a correct summary of your views? I view your answers as credible, even if Syndiant is also a competitor in the micro-projector market, because the truth is the truth, and Syndiant wouldn’t have even entered the market if it didn’t feel it had competitive advantages. The question for MVIS, though, is whether there is a niche that where it’s patents and technology will allow it to compete, namely in small, light, portable laser-perfect projectors manufactured with a less-costly technology relative to anyone else. (I am copying this to Paul M. on his blog for his view, if that’s OK; hopefully he can get his brother, Rich, to answer for him, as Rich appears to be the smart one in the family.)

  23. Bill kennedy says:

    During your time at syndiant did the company acheive a succesfull revenue stream factoring distribution, cost, volume? I think I read somewhere Syndiant need for further Funding?? It much more complicated trying to obtain this information from a co. thats not public. Several of your comments seem to be bit one sided regarding the future of projections. It seems almost silly to me that as a engineer you apparently see no advantage or benefit to a MEMS device. For example you consistantly “bash” MVIS however, after taking a fast glance at some of the products using Syndiant LCOS, specifically Aaxa L1 projector, it seems as though Sydiant/LCOS has it’s fair share of problems. I’m tryign to see pro’s and cons to each engine. I believe in the technology as a whole. I think that the as the industry grows it will have room for both. Considering the years you have invested I completely understand your passion regarding LCOS however, I feel you have significantly discredited or down played MVIS and their acheivements. It would be like Henry Ford believing Ford would be the only manfct.or the auto. Silly don’t you think?

    • KarlG says:

      First, it would be helpful if you could be specific as to where I “bashed” Microvision or show me one place were I have “discredited their achievements.” For example, quote (word for word) what I wrote that you disagree with. Saying that they are not telling the whole truth about a number of things related to green lasers is not “bashing,” it is a fact and sometimes the truth hurts. It may appear to you to be bashing Microvision because a lot of what they have put out does not agree with reality. Contrary to what you might think coming from what appears to me to be an “investor in Microvision” point of view, this blog is not about bashing Microvision, it is about the whole pico projector market. I am working on articles that cover more of the whole pico projector space, but I have just gotten started with this blog.

      In many ways my being the CTO constrained me from talking about Microvision. I have done a lot of investigation into the LBS, DLP, and other LCOS devices over the last several years, but it served no purpose to Syndiant to put out the information about LBS as it was a total non-factor in the market (show me a brand name OEM using them in production). But now that I have this blog, it is something I can write about.

      It is not that there are not potential advantages to LBS (one of the best ways to fool people is to tell half truths so it becomes believable), it is that they have so many disadvantages. Take for example the “efficiency claim” for LBS; if you go and measure them, the efficiency is lousy, worse than any LED pico projector I have measured in the last 3 years. You have to dig down and understand the how the whole system works to understand where the power is being lost. I plan on putting out a more detailed article on where I see the power being lost and a number of other major problems with LBS in the next several weeks, but I want to first put out some generic information and write about the other technologies that are actually being used in volume by brand name OEMs so it may be a little while before I do a full up article on LBS.

      The AAXA L1 was an early effort at building a laser based pico projector with LCOS by a small Chinese company OEM SSTDC. It certainly is not perfect (and we couldn’t control what they did), but it did proved that even “panel” based projectors with LCOS were focus free (something the LBS people try to deny). One of their problems was the cost and availability of lasers (blue lasers were very expensive at the time) and the quality of the frequency doubled green lasers (they used “laser pen” type lasers).

      You can try and “prove” anything with the right analogy. Maybe LBS is the next “cold fusion?”

      One last thing, I’m sorry but hopefully you should understand that I can’t comment about Syndiant’s financials since they are a private company.

  24. jon e says:

    Bill and Karl: I want to take more time to fully understand each of these recent posts, but I just want to make one comment about the bias issue of Karl: I really don’t get the concern about this shown in posts here. It seems clear to me that Karl is a world-class expert, and his “bias” is pretty clear: He never would have co-founded Symbiant if he and his partners didn’t feel that MVIS was vulnerable. An expert such as Karl needs to feel that he can express his views honestly, without having his integrity questioned, in my view. I personally have been grateful that Karl has come upon the scene to provide his knowledge and insights, and I’m sure that he’ll be increasingly preoccupied with consulting and related business development opportunities.

    That said, I liked some aspects of Bill’s post — I just wish the unnecessary and (to my view) wholly misplaced view of Karl’s motives weren’t a part of the post. The best feedback about how miserable a person I am can come from a former girlfriend, and the best insights into what’s wrong with MVIS can come from someone who has studied its vulnerabilities. And I, and I think most people, want to hear about these.

    • Bill kennedy says:

      I agree with your post. Perhaps I was wrong when I used the term “bashing”. This clearly is/was the wrong word for what I was trying to express. IMO over the years Karl has been very vocal regarding problems with Mems and LBS. His comments regarding LBS and MEMS have usually had a very negative undertone. Don’t get me wrong I understand why…he is a proponent of a system he is trying to develop/build/sell. To be fair and unbias on this blog I suggest that Karl needs to give mems and LBS a little more credit. I could be going out on a limb here but why would Pioneer want anything to do with MVIS if their product (mems Lbs) was so substandard. Why would Apple be selling the Show WX+..if the product was so under par and the image looked “noisy looking”? Why would Intel help MVIS expand distribution for the Show WX if the mems and LBS were “non viable”? The point of my last post was to get Karl to compare Apples to Apples. He mentions “half truths”. I believe it is a much greater challenge running a public comapany as opposed to a private….Those pesky conference calls. Microvision has presented information to investors as the information has become available. Perhaps MVIS has been misguided from time to time i.e. Corning SGL. Karl has stated Syndiant is “the leader in pico projection” with “multiple customers wanting well more than 1 million units by 2010”. Who are the multiple customers? Where are the products? I did a search with the words Syndiant, LCOS, and pico projector. The only product that came up was the Aaxa L1 on Amazon. Who are the major OEMs Syndiant has contracts with? As good, effecient, bright, best resolution, fast, etc. etc. It would seem that OEMs would be breaking the door down at Syndiant. I was a bit surprised that Syndiant was still getting funding at the same time they had “multiple customers wanting well more than 1 million….” As highly profitable as the Syndiant system is….just seems confusing. Yet he continues to tell the world about the inefficiencies of mems lbs, the half truths, the DGL misguided time lines…..
      If Karl feels DGL time lines are false or misleading – that is because Sorra, Nicha, Osram have released information that would suggest so. I like the fact that karl is willing to blog about the industry and provide insight. I don’t like the negativity he has toward mems lbs or Microvision. He would appear much more credible if he was actually as unbiased as he claims.

      • JonE says:

        Bill, thanks for your recent post. There is, in fact, one area where I am distressed at Karl’s hesitation to comment, which is the fatal inefficiency of LBS.

        While I am not a scientist, I have had the opportunity to hear a wide range of world class scientists succinctly explain core developing research principles in ways that the educated civilian can understand, and I feel certain that Karl could and would if he wanted — but he doesn’t want to.

        Karl seems to be interpreting his NDA (non disclosure agreement) duties to Symbiant broadly, and he ought to. So, no argument with Karl there. But, the science/physics of the how energy flows in the LBS architecture is as far from protected knowledge as anything I’ve seen Karl discuss and Karl himself states that he wants and intends to discuss the efficiency issues of LBS, relative to the broader competitive marketplace. Karl says that the complexity of describing where the inefficiencies occur in the architecture requires a detailed and intricate discussion that he’ll get to a few months down the line.

        This is the first head-scratcher I’ve seen yet as to Karl’s comments and views. It just doesn’t square with innumerable physics discussions that I’ve had with world class experts, where they’ve been able and comfortable in conveying the nuances of energy efficiency in systems. So, I do believe that Karl is hesitant to discuss this issue, and that his reluctance has nothing to do with NDA+ (with the “plus” being that Karl believes and I agree that his duty is to define the NDA as broadly as possible,) or with Karl’s professed inability to reduct the inefficiency of LBS’ energy-systems succinctly, so that Karl could do it now. In fact, I feel certain that Karl already has the explanation and wording ready, because he surely would have used it innumerable times with investors, State of Texas officials, customers,a and non-technical colleagues.

        The market-readiness of DGL’s seems like a distraction in the discussion with Karl, because they’re coming; slower than MVIS’ management seems to admit; and this surely means that MVIS has some future awkward business dilemmas to deal with as relates to it’s shareholders and it’s continued funding. If Karl were to “bash” MBVI over this near-certainty, I think he’s merely making a smart business observation that probably even MVIS managers are making privately. But, Karl’s stated reasons for delaying by months his expositing why LBS architecture is fatally flawed don’t make sense to me — it is discomforting.

        • admin says:


          I don’t think you understood my position exactly. I’m not giving details about Microvision’s power consumption because of some NDA or it is some deep dark secret, but because I have other things to do right now. To lay it out so an average person can understand it will take many hours to write.

          This blog NOT intended to be focused on Microvision and I want work on getting up on the blog other topics and on other technologies in the near term. I’m not talking “many months” but probably several weeks to get to it.

      • admin says:

        First, you have not pointed out one thing where I was factually wrong. As there is so much screwed up in what you wrote that it is hard to know where to start. Much of it comes off to me as you being naïve as to how to interpret the information that is being put out. From what I see, Microvision tells you a half truth and then can count on you, the technically and electronic business illiterate to extrapolate beyond what even they said. You are ripe for P.T. Barnum who (apocryphally) said, “There is a sucker born every minute” or perhaps, “there is nobody so easy to deceive who is willing to believe.” Judging from Microvision’s stock price they are running out of suckers.

        Let me start with your comments about Sorra, Nichia, and OSRAM. I see the same news releases and talk directly with these companies and talk with a number of industry analysts and experts, so I do have some “inside information” as well. I also have 34 year of seeing news releases and papers in conferences. What I see Microvision and its investors doing is mischaracterizing the new releases and other information. Microvision and its investors have a vested interest in getting people to believe that green lasers are closer to volume production than what the laser companies are saying, but wishing does not make it so.

        The problem is not the laser companies that have a problem with their announcements; it is that what they are actually saying is being spun to mean things they didn’t say. What the laser companies have announced are R&D breakthroughs (see the first half of my last post) that are usually years away from production and never gave a production date for these breakthroughs. When they say “production” they are talking about low volume production at prices that are way too high to make a high volume product. When they say something like “someday these will cost $5,” that does not mean 2012 when they first go into low volume production. Please quote an “announcement” that disagrees with me.

        Then you have to look at the spec’s for the lasers. The only laser in production that I know of today is a Nichia 510nm “bluish green” laser which it not very efficient in terms of lumens, costs way too much for a pico projector, and because of its wavelength being too short, cuts off a number of colors in the yellow region.

        Let’s consider the Corning green that you brought up since that has already played out. What evidence do you have that Microvision was ever “mislead” by Corning? I don’t think for an instant that Corning mislead Microvision. Why would Corning want that liability? Where is Microvision’s lawsuit if Corning so badly mislead them? I met with Corning laser people and talked with industry experts on lasers and I would roll my eye when I saw and read what Microvision said about the Corning’s laser. Their laser was clearly very expensive to make and everyone in the industry knew it, but this clearly does not include the Microvision faithful. Microvision mislead you and yet you still believe what they are saying over people (myself included) that were saying at the time that they were misleading people.

        And I think “it’s déjà vu all over again” with respect to Soraa, OSRAM, and Nichia. You with some “help” are being mislead into misreading and misinterpreting R&D and product announcement into saying more than what they are actually saying. The companies have a right to be proud about their accomplishments and it is great that they report on them. It is how these announcements are being used/mischaracterized by Microvision and its faithful, that I take issue with.

        Now for the distribution deals that you have mischaracterized. Do you not understand what a distributor means and how a distribution deal work? Guess not, and Microvision can count on you not understanding. Microvision does a good job of having their headlines of their news releases that in my opinion grossly overstate what is actually written in the rest of the release. If you only read the headlines, you will be mislead.

        Let’s start with the Ulead “announcement” (by the way how is that one working for you?). Reading the details, it was not Ulead the large telephone manufacturing company, but rather Ulead Australia that had agreed to distribute the ShowWX. Distribution very simple deal compared to manufacturing and they don’t have to really understand the product or take a big risk. In the case of Microvision, is appears that they were so desperate that they gave terms were there was little or no risk on the distributor’s part.

        Microvision’s “deal with Apple” was really a deal with a company in Europe that is a distributor of Apple products. They probably got a deal from Microvision where they take little or no risk on inventory (essentially Microvision carries most if not all the inventory risk — thus the big write downs in Microvision’s fanancials), a big enough gap between the sales price and what Microvision charges them, and they put it in their catalog. “Apple” the big company in Cupertino didn’t make a decision, but rather one of their distributors in Europe. The Intel distribution deal is likely similar. These are not precursors to a “bigger deal” as the people pumping Microvision’s stock and the headline of the news releases try to imply. They are simple business deals. They see if it sells and then drop the product if it doesn’t. They have made no serious investment in Microvision’s technology.

        In my comments at December 10, 2011 at 10:49 am it tried to give some specific made half truths that Microvision made. Which one of these do you disagree with?

        You don’t seem to be very good with Google. Syndiant’s biggest name customer products are 3M and Philips. You might want to go to Pico-Projector_Info’s web site and search for “Syndiant.” For most of the information in one place about who was publicly working with Syndiant, see “A Picture Tour of Syndiant’s CES 2011 suite.”

        As far as image quality goes, I would suggest you see it side by side with the other products. I’m fond of saying, “the best way to make speckle go away appear to be to invest in Microvision stock.” Syndiant did a side by side comparison multiple times at SID, Projection Summit, CES 2010, and other events and uniformly people thought the ShowWX’s image looked bad. Paul Anderson did his own side by side comparison and promptly sold all his stock.

        As far as “non-viable” goes, this pretty much should speak for itself from Microvision’s financials. They make products for many hundreds of dollars more than what they can sell them for. They have yet to convinced a brand name OEMs to use their engines. The ShowWX consumed about 5 Watts to give only 10 lumens, much worse than any LED pico projector. Side by side their images looked horrible (distorted and noisy) and they generally cost 2 to 3 times as much for lower resolution and less brightness.
        Show me any evidence that they are viable.

        • jon e says:

          Karl and Bill, if I can intrude into your fascinating conversation:

          Thanks, Karl, for clearing up the likely distribution arrangements for MVIS’ products at Apple and elsewhere. For example, I didn’t realize that Apple farmed out it’s AppleStore to a distributor in Europe and other non-US markets.

          I can say, Karl, how I got tripped up by the confusion as to how dedicated Corning was to laser production for the micro-projector market: Corning’s CEO made a big deal of it in investor discussions ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbqUylYUcws .) This doesn’t mean that MVIS’ managers misplayed it’s reliance on a vendor delivery situation to a degree that would have bankrupted most other companies.

          I also don’t dispute Kar’s concerned prognosis as to whether MVIS can raise money sufficiently to keep itself in business, and it needs the highest possible stock price to pull this off. MVIS therefore has a reason to disclose as little as it can to it’s shareholders, and to shade things when it’s legally possible to do so.

          I have less certainty than Karl does as to the ramp-up rate of DGL’s. Karl has far better direct information sources and expertise with which to judge relative to my knowing nothing about anything, but my experience in business tells me that Karl is underestimating the willingness of the market to buy end-products that have less-then-amazing DGL quality and to overpay for it. So, I think that Karl may be mixing “the quality I know is possible” for DGL’s with a lower quality//higher cost version of DGLs which the market will absorb in the immediate term.

          I also think that Karl is underestimating the disruptive nature of what DGL’s will create to the entire present micro-projector ecosystem. Zynga — and the world of interactive gaming — needed a Facebook platform to go parabolic; Richard Branson’s intergalactic travel business needed changes in law and advances in cost/efficiency of materials and engines in order to be economically possible; and the microprojector market will have as it’s history Before DGL’s and After DGL’s.

          So, I think that there’s two entirely separate points that Karl is making and they ought not to be mushed together. One is whether MVIS has the money to get to the goal line and whether management has the incentive to be less than candid (“unclear” and “yes.) But, the world of DGL’s are here, it’s my understanding from the manufacturers of DGL’s that they are prepared to put into manufacturer present-level versions of the technology even while they continue to improve the technology.

          But, I yield to Karl’s superior knowledge; still Karl’s comments leave me with these doubts as to the the certainty of Karl’s conclusions. And, this is why I think the issue of the relative energy-efficiency of the various technologies is a crux-level issue for Karl to illuminate for his ever-increasing readers and followers.

          • admin says:

            I’ve already spent way too much time on this. But JonE and Bill, you really don’t have a clue as to what the real situation is with green lasers. In 2012, there are not missing by a little bit that can be overcome with a higher price for the finished goods. You are setting yourselves up to be as disappointed as you were with Corning, but back then you probably wouldn’t believe the people that were warning that Microvision leading you on (and yet still you believe). Corning was enthusiastic about lasers and Microvision used that to imply that they were further along than Corning was. The Corning people were enthusiastic but it was clear that that enthusiasm was where they would be YEARS in the future and not in the near term like Microvision needed it to be.

            Ok, believe what you want to believe as you have bought into this Microvision religion hard core. I want to write about technology and business, not religion, and I have got to get onto other things.

  25. jon e says:

    Karl, obviously your goals for your time and your blog need to be respected. It makes sense that you don’t want your focus to be hijacked by what you feel are limited-view fanatics. For the record, I was not a shareholder of MVIS during the Corning era or well after. While I know enough about you to know that you are quite accomplished and your views are to be taken with deep respect, your last post indicates that you are pretty frustrated with the direction the comments have taken you, and the the blog. So, let me leave it this way: As a scientist, and a map of great repute, you have the added burden which mere commenters such as myself and Bill don’t have: There needs to be a connected loop of logic supporting whatever comments and science you do wish to discuss. As an interested reader, the absence of support of the relative energy-inefficiency of MVIS’ IP is puzzling, and I believe that you’ll get to this when you can. You’ve got a lot of things to say on a wide array of topics, and I know that I speak for many when I say that I look forwarding to learning from you.

  26. Bill Kennedy says:

    Thanks for your clarification and insight Karl. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    Using your experience from years in the industry do you feel any useful applications exsist that will utilize MEMS/LBS in the future?

    • admin says:

      The advantage that LBS has over DLP and LCOS is that it does not use field sequential color (FSC). This would seem to give it advantages in some uses, particularly with the military (some parts of the military don’t like FSC).

  27. albert says:

    MVIS’ problems really all stem from their initial belief that they would be the “only game in town.” So they thought that speckle, cost and eye safety would all be non-issues due to lack of competition.

    When credible competition did come along, MVIS apparently bevahed arrogantly and disrespectfully towards them. So of course those guys were and still are only too happy to return the favor by exposing the flaws in their technology.

    • admin says:


      Your characterization does not agree with my experience. The big problem I saw was with them saying things were misleading people.

  28. Pico Insider says:


    We worked together at TI many years ago. TIGA,340xx products. Good times.

    I am now working on a pico laser projector (not MVIS) and must tell you that cell phone vendors are looking for 5mm in height, 3 – 4cc in volume, 20 Lumens in brightness, and 720p in resolution. These can be achieved by laser-MEMS projectors, but not by LCOS or DLP. Not now. Not ever. Physics.

    LCOS has much to low contrast. To boost it effectively, this technology would have to revert to lasers and the cost/volume/speckle would go way up. DLP cannot exceed SVGA in resolution and achieve the power/size/volume goals required by cell phone and other handheld devices. More physics. Etendue.

    What is holding back laser-MEMS projectors is cost and green laser availability. We anticipate that to ramp up in 2013. Expect the electronic BOM cost to drop to $40 in 2013 and below $30 in 2014 and lower after that. Laser-MEMS technology will be dominant in embedded platforms.

    DLP and LCOS will be relegated to standalone and media projectors. Not a bad market, but certainly not the large volume that investors in these technologies expect.


    • admin says:

      Sorry I don’t remember your name (I was never good with names), but I too have very fond memories of the TIGA/340 days.

      I will say that your information on what can be achieved by LCOS is incorrect. I don’t see DLP getting there though. I also don’t think you really understand the contrast that can be achieved by LCOS. A native panel can be over 1,000 to one (and over 10,000 to one with some technologies) which is more than enough for a 20 to 30 lumen projector in any rational lighting. I have already seen working 4cc LCOS pico projector engines using LEDs and they will be smaller with lasers. I think you may be thinking about the Himax color filter stuff or something which had lousy colors and contrast. LCOS is also being held back by the lack of available green lasers. LCOS is waiting to go smaller until the lasers are available and can use the polarized light that most lasers naturally produce. Laser light is also better for contrast.

      There is a lot more holding back the laser-MEMs that just the green lasers. The green lases appear to me to be just an excuse for a lot of other problems to high behind. The green laser is just the “outer skin of the onion” of the problems with laser beam scanning. From speckle, to laser safety, to brightness, to the power to drive and control the the lasers and the mirrors not to mention the scanning distortion and resolution loss issues, there is a lot of “physics” working against laser beam scanning. I don’t know your technology, but at least with Microvision’s their effective resolution is about half what they claim due to their bidirectional interlace scanning. Microvision has spent to date over $400M to get where they are at which isn’t very good.

      I guess we will see when your stuff gets to market.

    • admin says:

      Would you please send me a private email to meet@kguttag.com. I think there are some things we might want to discuss.