You should by now be aware that we're big fans of Microvision's Show WX pico projectors. Whether integrated into the smartphones or gaming peripherals of the future, we feel like the company's Laser Display Engine has a big part to play in our lives. It's therefore very welcome news to hear that its research team has managed to integrate a "direct" green laser into the portable projector setup, making for simpler and cheaper manufacturing of smaller components. Up to this point, Microvision has been performing its color mixing using a red laser, a blue laser, and a red laser specially re-calibrated to output green light, but that added bit of complexity can now be set aside with the inclusion of lasers that produce green hues natively. The company cites at least five global manufacturers ready to produce direct green beamers in commercial quantities by late 2011, so with a bit of luck and price competition, the pico projector dream might have itself a glorious realization after all.
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Microvision Integrates First Direct Green Lasers into Pico Projector Prototypes

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Microvision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS - News), a leader in innovative ultra-miniature projection display technology, today announced it has successfully integrated the first "direct green" laser samples from two leading manufacturers into pico projector benchtop prototypes. This achievement represents an important first step toward the commercialization of PicoP® display engines using direct green lasers. The PicoP display engine utilizing a direct green laser is expected to offer significant commercial advantages in price, size, power, and performance.

"We are very pleased with the performance of these early direct green laser prototypes," commented Sid Madhavan, Microvision vice president, R&D and Applications. "These encouraging results give us confidence that direct green laser diodes will be capable of meeting the performance requirements for integration into our PicoP display platform."

Simplicity leads to lower costs

Microvision's current pico projection engine uses red and blue laser diodes and a frequency-doubled "synthetic" green laser to create a full color image. Synthetic green lasers are infrared lasers that are manipulated to reduce their wavelength to produce a green light. This conversion process creates a complex system of multiple components held to tight tolerances making manufacturing more challenging.

Direct green lasers are capable of producing green light natively, greatly simplifying laser design and manufacturing processes. Direct green lasers are expected to be manufactured in a manner similar to red and blue lasers available today, facilitating lower cost and rapid scalability to commercial quantities. The combination of smaller size, lower power, and lower cost make direct green lasers an attractive alternative to synthetic green lasers for Microvision's mobile display solutions.

Historically, availability of synthetic green lasers has been constrained due to their complexity and the existence of only two manufacturers. Today, there are at least five companies worldwide that have announced they are developing direct green lasers for late 2011 to mid 2012 commercial introduction. Industry researcher Yole Development forecasts that the direct green laser market size will reach about $500 million by 2016 and should represent more than 45 million devices.

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