LensVector gets $50 million for solid-state LCD autofocus technology

Feb. 16, 2010
Mountain View, CA--LensVector closed $30 million in a Series C round bringing total funding to $50 million to develop its solid-state liquid-crystal-display (LCD)-based (lensless) autofocus technology.

Mountain View, CA--LensVector, a provider of solid-state optical components for camera phones, laptops, and other consumer electronics, has closed $30 million in a Series C financing round, bringing the total financial backing of the company to more than $50 million. Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) led the new funding and joins existing investors Menlo Ventures, Samsung, Silicon Valley Bank, Mitsui and Kodak. LensVector will use proceeds from the financing to expand operations for its autofocus technology (for a related story, see “Varioptic announces optical image stabilization for mobile phones”).

LensVector uses a unique, patented technology to transform a simple liquid crystal (LC) cell into a variable focus lens. Rather than physically moving a lens element like traditional mechanical solutions, LensVector applies a small control voltage to dynamically change the refractive index of the material the light passes through. LensVector carefully controls the rotation of the molecules in the LC cell to achieve this change in refractive index. Because the resulting solid-state autofocus element has no motor or moving parts, LensVector says it is more rugged and reliable than mechanical alternatives and provides change of focus from infinity to 10 centimeters with good optical performance.

The company’s technology addresses the need for autofocus and other advanced optical features in the large and rapidly growing market for miniature cameras embedded in mobile phones, laptops, pocket video camcorders and other consumer electronics. Sampling today with key customers, LensVector technology replaces the complex, bulky and often fragile mechanical autofocus mechanisms currently found in camera phones with a simple and easy-to-integrate solid-state component.

“LensVector is receiving tremendous response from handset customers that want small, energy-efficient, rugged autofocus solutions that can easily be integrated into their devices and mass manufactured at a competitive cost. Consumer demand for better picture quality, plus high-value applications like bar-code scanning and video, are key demand drivers,” said LensVector CEO Derek Proudian. “This financing will allow us to scale our manufacturing capacity and better serve this growing demand from our customers.”

--Posted by Gail Overton; [email protected]; www.laserfocusworld.com.

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