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11 May 2007


LBO and Thales to develop laser projection displays for aerospace & defence applications

In a collaboration to produce displays that meet the high-performance and demanding safety requirements of cockpit applications, Light Blue Optics (LBO) of Cambridge, UK has announced a joint development agreement to provide French aerospace & defence company Thales with engineering samples of its miniature holographic laser projection system.

Founded in 2004, LBO’s projection technology uses laser light sources and patented holographic techniques to deliver large, full-colour, high-quality video images.

A diffraction pattern of the desired two-dimensional image, calculated using LBO’s holographic algorithms, is displayed on a phase-modulating liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) microdisplay. When illuminated by coherent laser light, rather than blocking light, the microdisplay steers the light to exactly where it is needed, making the system highly efficient. Unlike conventional projection systems, LBO’s technology does not require a projection lens. Instead, a demagnification lens pair expands the diffracted image from the microdisplay, producing an ultra-wide throw angle greater than 90º. The projected images are in focus at all distances from the projector – even on curved or angled surfaces without distortion, eliminating the need for a focus control.

As well as easy miniaturization, the technology’s benefits include “exceptional levels of brightness and a robust, lightweight optical architecture [without moving parts] that is highly tolerant to a range of microdisplay defects [such as pixel failure ],” says the firm’s co-founder and director of business development Dr Edward Buckley. As well as low-cost devices for hand-held mobile applications, the technology is also suitable for use in safety critical markets such as aerospace & defence and automotive, Buckley adds.

“This development is a strategic collaboration that will bring LBO’s unique command of holographic laser projection together with Thales’ unrivalled understanding of human interaction with information display systems,” adds CEO Dr Chris Harris. “Coupling our flexibility with Thales’ tremendous engineering capacity opens up a range of near-term opportunities in aerospace & defence, and we anticipate it will form the basis of a long-term relationship.”
Thales’ VP general manager of Cockpit Interactive Solutions, Bruno Vazzoler, adds, “We have identified a range of early revenue opportunities for LBO’s technology and look forward to delivering these advances in display technology to customers in the near term.”

*Displaytech to design and manufacture microdisplays for LBO

In late April, LBO also announced an exclusive development partnership with Displaytech Inc, which will develop and manufacture an ultra-compact, highly efficient and low-cost microdisplay device exclusively for LBO.  

The development partnership leverages Displaytech’s experience with fast-switching ferroelectric liquid crystal on silicon (FLCOS) technologies. Founded in 1985, Displaytech has shipped over 16 million devices to consumer electronics companies, and has over 100 granted, licensed and pending patents to its name.

Dr Adrian Cable, LBO’s co-founder and chief technology officer, says that Displaytech’s fast, efficient and compact microdisplay device with integrated electronics is the ideal component for its miniature projection devices.

“Our partnership with Displaytech builds on both companies’ core competencies – LBO’s command of holographic laser projection technology and Displaytech’s proven track record of bringing quality, low-cost microdisplays to high volume markets,” adds CEO Chris Harris. “We believe that this is the beginning of a highly productive, long-term relationship.”

See related item:

LBO secures extra $1m and full-color laser projection license

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