Imaging & Detector Industry Report

May 1, 2000
Microvision receives, gives funding; Cognex buys machine-vision business; DuPont collaborates with Philips, acquires Uniax

Microvision receives, gives funding

To accelerate development of its virtual retinal displays, Microvision (Bothell, WA) will receive an investment of $25 million from Cree (Durham, NC) and the General Electric Pension Trust, an investment arm of General Electric. The funding should result in microdisplays suitable for mobile Internet services. In a separate development, Microvision announced that it has invested in Gemfire Corp. (Palo Alto, CA), whose high-intensity laser sources use planar devices based on periodically poled lithium niobate to produce high-brightness red, green, and blue light. Microvision will use the Gemfire lasers to broaden its range of applications beyond the Microvision head-mounted display and into high-resolution rear-projection displays intended for large desktop computer monitors.

Cognex buys machine-vision business

Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA) has signed an agreement with Komatsu Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) to buy Komatsu's machine-vision business for $11 million in cash, with potential additional performance-based payments of up to $8 million. Cognex will acquire all rights to Komatsu's machine-vision products and related technologies and will hire all employees now working at Komatsu's machine-vision business. The association between Cognex and Komatsu extends back to 1989, when Komatsu started building its vision systems around Cognex software and high-speed processing hardware.

DuPont collaborates with Philips, acquires Uniax

Philips Flat Display Systems (FDS; San Jose, CA) announced plans to collaborate with DuPont Technologies (Wilmington, DE) to develop polymer organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) displays. This agreement follows DuPont's recent acquisition of Uniax Corp. (Santa Barbara, CA), in which Philips FDS had held a minority stake (the firm is now fully divested). Uniax specializes in polymer OLEDs on glass and flexible plastic substrates. The company's manufacturing capabilities complement DuPont's other work in OLEDs based on small-molecule technology, which is carried out at its Netherlands-based OLED production facility.

US Display Consortium awards Fresnel Optics screen contract

Fresnel Optics (Rochester, NY) has been awarded a joint-funding contract by the US Display Consortium (San Jose, CA) to develop imaging screen systems for rear-projection monitors. Fresnel Optics will first produce screen prototypes and then develop production tooling and low-cost manufacturing equipment. Each organization will invest 50%, with the total contract valued at $4.5 million. A desktop monitor is the first product targeted by the project.

ThermoSpectra sells two businesses

ThermoSpectra Corp., a subsidiary of Thermo Instrument Systems (Waltham, MA), has sold two of its businesses—Nicolet Imaging Systems and Sierra Research and Technology (SRT)—to GenRad (Westford, MA) for $40 million. GenRad provides electronics OEMs with hardware, software, and services to optimize product design, manufacturing, and aftermarket services. Nicolet Imaging Systems and SRT serve the electronics industry with products that include imaging systems used in assembling printed-circuit boards.

Also in the news . . .

Flat-panel-display developer eMagin Corp. (Hopewell Junction, NY) merged with a publicly traded shell company, Fashion Dynamics, to reach the public market without the usual IPO procedures and at the same time raised $27 million in a private placement. . . . Judson Optoelectronics (Montgomeryville, PA), an operating unit of PerkinElmer (formerly EG&G) of Boston, MA, was acquired by private-equity investment-advisory firm Keystone Capital (Chicago, IL) in partnership with Judson's management; the new entity is named Judson Technologies LLC and will operate as a stand-alone entity under its current management team.

John Wallace

For more business news, subscribe to Optoelectronics Report. Contact Jayne Sears-Renfer at [email protected].

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