Optics Industry Report

Dec. 1, 2001
Aberdeen predicts a competitive market for integrated optics; Biophan announces MRI-compatible optical pacemaker; OSRAM and OTM Technologies sign joint development agreement...

Aberdeen predicts a competitive market for integrated optics
A report released last month by the Aberdeen Group (Boston, MA) estimates that the planar lightwave circuit (PLC) market will reach $1.29 billion by 2005. "At the moment, there are well over 20 companies, both public and private that have invested in PLC technology and plan to supply PLC-based products to the industry. And over the next 12 to 36 months, a handful of emerging companies will take a more significant share of the PLC market," said Esmé Fantozzi, report co-author. "In the next five years, optical circuits hold the promise of both high-volume production and large-scale functional integration—all at a fraction of the [current] cost."

Biophan announces MRI-compatible optical pacemaker
Biophan Technologies Inc. (Rochester, NY) has announced a pacemaker design, based on optics instead of electronics, to allow magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of patients with cardiac pacemakers. The MRI magnetic field can induce potentially fatal heating through the metal cable that connects an electronic pacemaker to the heart. The cable also picks up radio frequency interference, which can impair pacemaker performance. The optical design replaces the metal cable with an optical fiber and uses an implantable semiconductor laser to regulate heartbeat. A photodiode in the end of the fiber that connects to the heart can also provide physiological monitoring.

OSRAM and OTM Technologies sign joint development agreement
OTM Technologies Ltd. (Herzliya, Israel) and OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH & Co. OHG (Regensburg, Germany) have agreed to cooperate in the development and manufacturing of OTM devices including the Laser Point sensor, an optical navigation and control device scheduled for launch in third quarter 2002, for improved performance over existing cursor control solutions in PDAs, laptops, and mobile handsets. The Laser Point sensor project will include integration of the laser, optics, detectors, and final component packaging. The sensor-based device with three-dimensional control will enable mobile device owners to fully utilize advanced interactive games, flexible map navigation, and location-based services. "We are proud to be working on this exciting project with the definitive player in advanced laser technology," said Gilad Lederer, president and CEO of OTM Technologies. "By having OSRAM's expertise and track record of timely delivery of mass-volume, high-quality laser sensors on its side, OTM Technologies can guarantee its customers reliable and state-of-the-art products."

Silicon Optix secures commitments of $6.8 million in Series B first closing
The fables semiconductor company Silicon Optix Inc. (SOI; San Jose, CA) has received commitments of $6.8 million in venture financing. The company has closed on the initial $3.4 million and will close the remaining $3.4 million in January 2002. SOI is actively engaged with prospective lead venture capitalists to complete a $15-million Series B financing in early 2002. "Since the completion of our first round of financing, Silicon Optix has made significant progress positioning itself to be the leader in the convergence of digital image processing and optics," said Paul Russo, chairman, president, and CEO. "We continue to exceed expectations by meeting our business and financial goals. The strength and support of our investors affirms our belief in our technology, strategy, and the available market opportunities. We are very pleased with our ability to complete this funding in difficult economic conditions."

Also in the news . . .
Lambda Research Optics (Costa Mesa, CA) has opened a regional sales office in West Townsend, VT. . . APA Optics Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) reported a net loss last month of $1.36 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2002, ended Sept. 30, as compared to the net loss of $596,999 posted for the second quarter of its 2001 fiscal year. The loss was attributed mostly to the higher cost of goods sold, reduced interest income, and the slowing economy.

Hassaun A. Jones-Bey

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