Think lasers are only good for making industrial cutting tools, light shows and flashy, lightsaber-lookalike that are capable of bursting balloons with their heat output? Well, think again. A company known as MicroVision which specializes in laser and ultra-miniature display technologies is out to show the world how lasers can be used to actually make something practical for the needs of the consumer, military, industrial and healthcare segments. And to that end, MicroVision has announced its first ever global R&D centre at Nanyang Technological University.
*UPDATE: Microvision has clarified that the current PicoP projection engine has an average energy draw of 2w and not a maximum power draw of 2w as was originally reported. The article has since been updated with the correct details.
Lasers make great toys, do they not? After all, most of us would have at one point of time been infatuated with those little laser pointers that seemingly need so little energy to project a coherent beam of red light that is capable of maintaining its integrity for what is easily a hundred metres without pettering out, unlike a regular torchlight. Then came the introduction of more powerful, lighsaber-lookalike laser pointers that featured more powerful laser diodes with colours aside than red, and geeks were instantly in heaven with their new toys.
MicroVision's latest announcement will probably serve as an eye-opener, especially for those who have not been keeping up with laser technology development. This is because the company has just announced the establishment of a new research and development centre in the campus of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) which will be dedicated to the development of "innovative, breakthrough products" which utilize its proprietary PicoP laser projection technology.
In his opening address, NTU's president-designate and provost, Professor Bertil Andersson likened the relationship between the University and MicroVision to that of a 'marriage' which had experienced its fair share of 'suitors' aiming to 'court' the other party.
"NTU is proud to partner with MicroVision in their first R&D centre outside of the US. With MicroVision's speciality in areas such as Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMs), laser physics and augmented reality, there will be many opportuniteis to work with both the faculty and students from the engineering, physics and new media fields," he said.
According to Andersson, the new research facility wil not only focus on developing new products capable of taking advantage of MicroVision's PicoP technology, but also "carry out advanced research in MEMs and laser physics". MicroVision's PicoP technology is currently being used in a wide variety of devices, such as heads-on displays found in medical and military-grade equipment and even laser projectors designed for use with smartphones.
He also added that it was the large amount of synergy between the University and MicroVision which has made this partnernship possible.
"In fact, the rate our relationship progressed was so fast, we did not even have the time to declare our 'engagement'," he quipped.
Also present at the ceremony was MicroVision's president and CEO, Alexander Tokman, who spoke about the significance of the partnership with NTU.
"The breadth of the technological expertise in the University is second to none; MicroVision looks forward to working with NTU's commendable faculties and student body on furthering its world-winning IP portfolio," he said.
Tokman also affirmed MicroVision's commitment to the partnership in his speech, claiming that the company plans to have up to 25 people working in its R&D facilities within a year and half, and NTU staff will make up apprximately 30% of the research team.
This was followed by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between NTU and MicroVision by Andersson and Tokman.
Last but not least, MicroVision's vice president of global R&D and advanced applications, Sid Madhavan wrapped up the presentation with a quick explaination of the company's technological breakthroughs and areas of collaboration with NTU.