Imaging & Detector Industry Report

Nov. 1, 1999
Cognex refiles suit against Lemelson Foundation; Sanyo and Kodak to introduce organic displays; Burle Industries invests in NanoSciences; Silicon Light Machines gets support from Cypress Semiconductor; Photonics East emphasizes imaging; Also in the news . . .

Cognex refiles suit against Lemelson Foundation

Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA) has refiled its lawsuit against the Lemelson Medical, Educational and Research Foundation, Limited Partnership (Incline Village, NV). Originally to be heard in Massachusetts, the case will now be heard in Nevada. The suit alleges that a number of patents that the Lemelson Foundation claims cover "machine vision" are invalid or unenforceable or both. The Lemelson Foundation holds the rights to the patents of prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson and has either sued or been sued by a number of other companies, including Motorola (Scottsdale, AZ), the US automakers, and barcode equipment manufacturers, over the validity and extent of its patents

Sanyo and Kodak to introduce organic displays

Sanyo Electric (Tokyo, Japan) and Eastman Kodak (Rochester, NY) have jointly developed a full-color organic electroluminescent display for commercial introduction in the next couple of years. The display incorporates low-temperature polysilicon technology. A passive-matrix version suitable for use in portable telephones will be on the market in 2000, and an active-matrix version intended for wide application will be available in 2001. An alliance formed between the companies in February of 1999 has spurred joint development, primarily of the active-matrix displays. The two companies will now hone production techniques for the displays and work together in their commercialization.

Burle Industries invests in NanoSciences

Burle Industries (Lancaster, PA), a maker of photomultiplier tubes and silicon target-imaging devices, has made an equity investment in NanoSciences Corp. (Oxford, CT) as part of an assistance and development agreement between the two companies. NanoSciences, a startup venture, has developed a micromachining technology that allows it to make silicon microchannel plates and other new detection architectures for advanced imaging systems and sensors.

Silicon Light Machines gets support from Cypress Semiconductor

Silicon Light Machines (SLM; Sunnyvale, CA) has received an additional $10.3 million in financing from Cypress Semiconductor (San Jose, CA) and individual investors. Cypress will also supply SLM with wafer-processing technology. T. J. Rodgers, Cypress president and CEO and vice chair of the Semiconductor Industry Association (San Jose, CA), has joined the SLM board of directors. "This agreement firms up a working relationship that the companies have established over the past year," according to an SLM statement. SLM looks to the agreement to support volume production of its grating light-valve technology in emerging HDTV and electronic cinema markets.

Photonics East emphasizes imaging

Photonics East (Sept. 19-22, 1999; Boston, MA), sponsored by SPIE (International Society for Optical Engineering), was held this year in concert with the SPIE Electronic Imaging International and the New England Design and Manufacturing Expo. The show attracted approximately 4500 attendees—1800 walk-ins, 1700 technical attendees, and the remainder exhibitors. Exhibits emphasized imaging-related products as well as other optoelectronics; 208 exhibitors plied their wares. Technical sessions included talks on environmental and industrial sensing, vision-system engineering, and communications.

Also in the news . . .

Samsung Display (Seoul, Korea) is investing $123 million to boost its output of color filters used in LCDs. . . . Display Technology, a joint venture between IBM (Armonk, NY) and Toshiba (Tokyo, Japan), aims to increase its LCD production by 50% starting next April. . . . Photobit Corp. (Pasadena, CA) and Basler AG (Ahrensburg, Germany) have formed an alliance in which Photobit will develop CMOS image sensors for integration into Basler's machine-vision systems, with Basler making a $11.7 million strategic equity investment in Photobit.

John Wallace

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