Imaging Industry Report

Nov. 1, 2005
Goodrich (Charlotte, NC) entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sensors Unlimited (Princeton, NJ) for $60 million in cash.

Goodrich to buy Sensors Unlimited

Goodrich (Charlotte, NC) entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sensors Unlimited (Princeton, NJ) for $60 million in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, Goodrich will acquire a business that has pioneered the design and production of short-wave infrared (SWIR) technology. Sensors Unlimited develops and manufactures indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) imaging technology and has in-house manufacturing capabilities for advanced IR cameras and short-wave-IR and near-IR focal-plane arrays. With a 39,000-sq-ft facility in Princeton and more than 50 employees in manufacturing and engineering roles, the new business will become part of Goodrich’s existing Optical and Space Systems division.

According to Marshall Larsen, chairman, president, and CEO, this is a strategically important acquisition for Goodrich’s surveillance and reconnaissance business. “Short-wave IR sensors and near-IR imaging systems will significantly strengthen our position in the high-growth markets for surveillance and reconnaissance systems as well as homeland security applications.”

In related news, Sensors Unlimited was awarded a contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) to develop a 1280 × 1024-pixel, dual-wavelength, visible and SWIR focal-plane array for passive night-vision imaging with sensitivity to wavelengths from 0.4 to 1.7 µm, using pixels on a 15-µm pitch. The contract will be awarded in three 12-month phases and, if fully executed, will total more than $4.5 million.

Image sensors to top $4 billion in 2005

The image sensor and module market will exceed $4 billion in 2005, led by the camera-phone application, according to a new report from market research firm Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA). The report, Image Sensor Market Review and Forecast-2005, highlights the growing importance of the competing approaches for imaging products, from the fabless model to traditional vertical integration, and everything in between.

Four Japanese companies continue to lead in image sensor market share: Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and Matsushita, in that order.

“The CMOS vs. CCD debate is essentially over, and our interest is in the battle of the business models,” says Tom Hausken, director of components research at Strategies Unlimited. “The market is naturally stratifying the supply chain, eliminating inefficiencies and dividing the margins among the layers. The challenge for suppliers now is to find the best way to defend the value in the imager so that it doesn’t become a commodity.”

Dow Corning forms Light Management group

Dow Corning (Midland, MI) plans to merge its Photonics Solutions business-development program with the company’s mainstream electronics business, bringing it into the group headed by Tom Cook, Dow Corning’s global-industry executive director. The move will bring Dow Corning’s full worldwide resources to bear on the technology being developed in the group, according to Cook.

The new Light Management group will concentrate on and widen the previous program’s areas of pursuit, which include technology for improving light-emitting diodes (LEDs), light pipes, and flat-panel displays. “The result will be a lot more reach,” said Cook. “We are now developing a global market plan and will take advantage of linkages into sales, as well as product development worldwide.” Dow Corning would also like to explore venture-capital partnerships, he noted.

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Also in the news . . .

Honeywell (Morris Township, NJ) granted a license authorizing Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT; Taiwan) to use a patented Honeywell technology that increases the brightness of images and reduces the appearance of certain interference effects on liquid-crystal displays. . . . OTB Display (Eindhoven, the Netherlands) has signed and closed an agreement to acquire the PolyLED activity of Royal Philips Electronics (Heerlen, the Netherlands) to strengthen OTB’s position as a worldwide manufacturer of turnkey production solutions involving OLED displays. . . . LG. Philips (Seoul, Korea), a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid-crystal-display technology, signed an investment agreement with the governments of Poland and the municipality of Wroclaw to build a module plant in Wroclaw, Poland. . . . Infrared Solutions (Plymouth, MN) has agreed to the sale of Infrared Solutions, a supplier of infrared thermal-imaging products, to Fluke Electronics (Everett, WA), an electronics manufacturer. . . . The Joint European Torus (JET) research group (Abingdon, England) placed an order with CEDIP Infrared Systems (Croissy-Beaubourg, France) to supply an advanced IR thermography system for monitoring the temperature of components inside its Tokamak Fusion reactor.

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