Imaging & Detector Industry Report

Kodak to divest remote-sensing business; Omron picks up KOA backlight business; Camera looks for damage on Space Shuttle; MORE...

Apr 1st, 2004

Kodak to divest remote-sensing business

ITT Industries (White Plains, NY) signed a definitive agreement to purchase Eastman Kodak's Remote Sensing Systems (RSS; Rochester, NY) business for $725 million. ITT plans to create a new Space Systems Division at the RSS facility in Rochester that will develop and integrate space-based sensors and image information processing services for science, government, and commercial applications.

The RSS group, which has about 1800 employees, makes high-resolution optical and electro-optical imaging components, systems, and payloads for ground- and space-based telescopes, remote sensing satellites, and other space-based platforms. ITT's space businesses provide a variety of products and services, including infrared meteorological sensors and navigational payloads, as well as ground-station satellite control services and space launch services.

"We have identified a number of new programs where we will be better positioned to compete, including next-generation weather satellites, high-resolution imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles, and small satellite applications for scientific and intelligence missions," said Henry Driesse, president of ITT's Industries Defense Electronics and Services unit. "Our combined expertise in multispectral, hyperspectral, lidar, and radar systems ensure that we will have technology leadership well into the future."

Omron picks up KOA backlight business

Omron (Tokyo, Japan) and KOA (Tokyo, Japan) have agreed on the transfer of the backlight business from the Display System Division of Tama Electric Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of KOA, to Omron. A new company will be created via a corporate division of Tama Electric. The backlight business will become a 100% subsidiary of Tama Electric. Upon completion of this corporate division, Omron will acquire all shares of the new company from Tama Electric, receiving all development, production, and sales functions associated with its backlight business. Omron is developing and commercializing backlight units for cellular phone LCDs by utilizing LED as a light source and applying proprietary micro lens array technology for light control.

Camera looks for damage on Space Shuttle

NASA is using a 10-camera optical motion-capture solution from Vicon (Lake Forest, CA) to evaluate potential tile damage review and repair procedures for the Space Shuttles. NASA's Anthropometry and Biomechanics Facility at Lyndon Johnson Space Center has installed the system to track crew member and tool movement in a range of zero-gravity simulations to zone in on what maneuvers astronauts might safely and effectively perform outside the spacecraft. The current tests, being conducted using NASA's precision air-bearing floor and parabolic zero-g aircraft, are aimed at giving crews a specific process for examining the Shuttle wing area, measuring any tile damage, determining if the damage can be fixed and completing the repair method prior to re-entry.

Scottish group invests in 3-D imaging

Scottish Equity Partners has awarded a start-up funding package from the Synergy Fund to IRIS-3D (Interactive Real-time Imaging Systems 3D), which was spun out of the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) last December. The start-up package for IRIS-3D also includes financial backing from the university, the company's founders, and a SMART award.

IRIS-3D began trading after two years of research by the company's founders, Stuart McKay and Steven Mason, at the University of Strathclyde's Department of Mechanical Engineering. The company already has one product on the market, a desktop imaging workstation that produces high-resolution images downloaded from a range of imaging sensors including cameras, x-ray equipment, and computer graphics. According to McKay, the workstations could benefit several market sectors, including the oil and gas industry for visualizing seismic data, medical imaging, and security. The company will use this latest funding to work on miniaturizing its systems.

Also in the news . . .

Dow Chemical Company (Midland, MI) and Osram Opto Semiconductors (Regensburg, Germany) signed a commercial supply agreement for light-emitting polymers for use in Osram's Pictiva polymeric light-emitting diode display modules. . . . Vitex Systems (San Jose, CA) raised $24 million of equity financing in the initial close of its Series B funding round. . . . Taiwan, South Korea, and China now represent the world's largest region for the production of high-brightness LEDs, according to a report from Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA). Companies in this region produced 16.8 billion high-brightness LED chips in 2003, driven largely by demand for blue LED backlights in mobile phones.

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