Pixel Qi’s second investment round concluded by the 3M investment

Preceding information (essential reads):
Pixel Qi’s first big name device manufacturing partner is the extremely ambitious ZTE [Feb 15, 2011, latest update: June 3, 2011]
Pixel Qi and CPT alliance for sunlight readability [Dec 22, 2010, latest update: June 2, 2011]
Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [Nov 4, 2010, latest update: July 20, 2011]

3M Invests in Pixel Qi Corp. [Sept 12, 2011]

3M, through its 3M New Ventures organization, has invested in Pixel Qi Corp., a developer of next generation LCD panels with operations in Taiwan and California. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded by LCD pioneer, Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen in 2008, Pixel Qi designs unique, innovative LCD screens that solve problems not addressed by conventional screens. Its first products are sunlight-readable, low-power LCD panels aimed for mobile device applications.

As consumers increasingly rely on connected, mobile devices in their daily lives, there is a growing, unmet requirement for display devices that offer portability, connectivity, long battery life and excellent indoor/outdoor readability in one device. Current displays are not able to solve all of these challenges simultaneously. Pixel Qi’s unique technology platform eliminates the need for trade-offs and enables high quality, outdoor or sunlight viewing with excellent battery life and portability in one device. The combination of its technologies with those of 3M will create excellent new opportunities for both companies.

“Pixel Qi’s full-function color screen technology, for the first time, gives consumers an outdoor-readable video display with exceptional battery life, usable anywhere, anytime. It’s a first in the industry. In our collaboration with 3M, we have the ability to accelerate this into mass adoption,” said Mary Lou Jepsen, co-founder and CEO of Pixel Qi.

The funding led by 3M New Ventures will play a key role in enabling Pixel Qi to develop its product offerings into volume consumer markets as well as digital signage and touch applications. The investment, which successfully concludes Pixel Qi’s second (series “B”) investment round, will also allow Pixel Qi to build and to strengthen its engineering and sales capabilities.

Stefan Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures said, “Pixel Qi’s technology enables displays of such lower power and high usability that the vision of ubiquitous displays comes much closer to realization. In combining Pixel Qi’s disruptive display technology with our technology platforms, we can create new business opportunities in the consumer and commercial markets for 3M.”

3M’s Optical Systems Division is a world leader in the specialized films used inside liquid crystal displays to optimize the light throughput. Pixel Qi’s innovative LCD designs use such film technologies, and other advances, to create novel displays and enable the best outdoor readable, power efficient displays available on the market. “By addressing the energy consumption and sunlight readability challenges in one package, Pixel Qi provides a ground-breaking solution for the next generation of displays,” said Jim Bauman, vice president, 3M Optical Systems Division. “The combination of Pixel Qi’s low energy, reflective display technology with 3M’s innovative technologies will create exciting products for the mobile, handheld, tablet and other display markets.”

About 3M New Ventures

3M New Ventures is based in Munich, Germany. This business identifies highly innovative companies and future technologies. These opportunities include investments in the strategic sectors of display, energy, water, architecture, media, healthcare and safety and security, with linkages to 3M. Recent investments made by 3M New Ventures include minority stakes in Perceptive Pixel Inc., a developer of advanced multi-touch solutions; Printechnologics GmbH, a printed electronics specialist providing innovative solutions for electronic circuitry on paper or foil; and txtr GmbH, an innovative eReading technology company. 3M recently received the ‘Best Innovator’ award in Germany for its best-in-class innovation management and corporate venturing.

About Pixel Qi Corporation

Pixel Qi Corporation, is based in San Bruno, California and with principal offices in Taipei, Taiwan, and aims to design innovative LCD screens which solve problems not addressed by conventional screens. Its first products are sunlight-readable, low-power LCD panels aimed for mobile device applications. Operating as the industry’s first fabless display house, Pixel Qi designs all layers of the LCD, including each and every mask, the liquid crystal mode and material, the optical films, the driving scheme and the backlight. Pixel Qi, is a spinoff of One Laptop Per Child, the creator of the $100 laptop, where Pixel Qi CEO and founder Mary Lou Jepsen was chief architect and chief technology officer.

The “qi” (pronounced ‘chee’) in the firm’s name, refers to the circulating life energy that in Asian philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things.

SOURCE: 3M

3M US: 3M Optical Systems [site]

Future Technology Today

Portfolio of Key 3M Optical Display Films

  • NEW! Collimating Multilayer Optical Film (CMOF): the latest optical film innovation, offering a nearly perfect balance and mixture of light, for the ultimate viewing experience.  Enables LCD integrated optics.
  • Enhanced Specular Reflector Film (ESR): The most reflective surface available today, for brighter, and more energy-efficient displays.
  • Dual Brightness Enhancement Films (DBEF): Reflecting polarizers that enhance brightness and widen the viewing angle while maintaining color and picture uniformity.
  • Brightness Enhancement Films (BEF): Optical film that collimates light to control viewing angle and increase brightness.

3M Business Units: Optical Systems Division

The Optical Systems Division has global responsibility for the following businesses:

Electronic Display Lighting, Computer Filters, 3M Touch Systems and 3M Precision Optics. OSD provides display enhancement products for all market segments of the electronic display lighting industry that includes computer and television displays, handheld displays, computer filter and specialty displays, touch screens, rear projection screens and lens systems for projection displays.

Electronic Display Lighting

The Electronic Display Lighting business offers multiple Vikuiti™ Display Enhancement solutions for the electronic display industry including transmissive displays, reflective and absorbing polarizers for LCDs and kiosk applications, high contrast projection screens and anti-reflective solutions. Vikuiti™ Display Enhancement Films improve the visual appearance of electronic displays and offer a variety of solutions for improved readability, increased brightness, excellent contrast and color uniformity, glare reduction, privacy, and portability. Maximizing readability, the Vikuiti™ brand signifies superior performance for notebook PCs, liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors and TVs, automotive displays, rear-projection TVs, cell phones, PDAs and other handheld devices.

Major Markets: Electronic display (aftermarket and OEM).

Distribution: Vikuiti™ Display Enhancement Films are sold directly to the LCD and backlight manufacturers or display integrators.

Computer Filters

The Computer Filters business unit concentrates on aftermarket products addressing Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) needs for light control, privacy viewing, glare reduction and reduction of ELF/VLF E-field radiation. Typical applications include desktop and notebook computer monitors.

Major Markets: Consumer; electronic (OEM and retail); office; transportation (aftermarket and OEM).

Distribution: Computer filters are sold by direct sales through data and office supply distribution.

3M Touch Systems

Created in 2001 through the acquisition of two established touch screen manufacturers, MicroTouch Systems and Dynapro, 3M Touch Systems is a worldwide business group of the Optical Systems Division of 3M. Innovative touch technology complements the Vikuiti™ line of polarizer and brightness enhancement optical films and filters that are offered by the Optical Systems Division. 3M Touch Systems develops and manufactures innovative touch screens, touch monitors, and industrial touch products with a commitment to ease of integration, unparalleled responsiveness and simplicity of use.

Major Markets: Primary touch markets include gaming/entertainment, point-of-sale (POS), industrial, self-service kiosks, financial, portable and consumer products.

Distribution: Touch screens sold primarily through direct sales. Touch monitors sold through direct sales, manufacturing representatives and distributors. Other products are sold through direct sales and resellers.

Internet Web Sites

3M Demonstrates Innovative Display Film Solutions During SID Display Week 2011 [May 17, 2011]

Taking energy efficiency in electronic devices a step further, the 3M Optical Systems Division today provided a sneak preview of its energy efficiency exhibit highlights that will be featured during SID Display Week 2011, to be held May 16-20 in Los Angeles, Calif. Demonstrating how the company’s films make today’s electronic devices more efficient, without sacrificing display performance, 3M will showcase its latest energy efficiency films for tablets, handheld devices, notebooks, monitors and LCD TVs. In addition, the company will debut several new demonstrations including its proprietary integrated optics technology, uniformity tape and 3D handheld displays using collimated films, with and without glasses. The company’s energy efficient solutions can improve energy efficiency in electronic devices by up to 30 percent.

“The display and electronics supply chain is continuously reinventing electronic devices,” noted Jim Bauman, vice president of 3M’s Optical Systems Division. “Our optical films, and unique technology solutions enable display and device manufacturers to create thin, bright and energy efficient electronic devices, with endless possibilities. The demonstrations at our booth provide a sneak preview as to what the future holds for display-centric electronics, made possible by 3M’s technology innovation.”

During Display Week, 3M will show the following:

Uniformity Tape Allows LCD Manufacturers to Reduce Number of LEDs Required for Edge-lit LED LCD Panels at a Low Cost without Sacrificing Brightness or Efficiency
3M’s Uniformity Tape is a clear tape, which has adhesive on one side and a micro-replicated optical pattern on the other side. It is adhered to the edge of the light guide, which faces the LED light sources. The tape is designed to increase the spreading of light in the light guide from each LED, which greatly increases the allowable LED spacing. The optical pattern is spatially uniform, meaning that no positional registration of LEDs is required along its length. The Uniformity Tape keeps the edge of the display closest to the LEDs uniform in brightness when the spacing of light sources is increased. This allows panel manufacturers to save money by removing unnecessary LEDs. Uniformity Tape can also increase LED spacing by up to three times the current spacing, while maintaining edge uniformity for a given bezel size.

3M’s Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film, Air Guide and Unique ‘Light Mixing’ Approach Enables Non-incremental Improvements in Cost and Simplifies LCD/System Supply Chains
3M’s new class of integrated optical films, known as ‘Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film’ (CMOF), can eliminate all free-floating films, as well as the light guide from LED LCD backlights. The continued use of the traditional, multi-film backlight architecture has resulted in constraints that limit innovation in cost, performance, form factor, weight and the supply chain. 3M’s ‘integrated optics’ approach leveraging CMOF and Air Guide technologies addresses these challenges head on—significantly improving the overall environmental profile of these systems and presenting a rare opportunity for collaboration across the supply chain.

Glasses Free 3D Films Deliver True Auto-stereoscopic 3D without Impacting Display Color or Resolution
3M’s latest advances in 3D Enhancement Films include a handheld auto-stereoscopic device demonstration with full resolution 3D and full resolution 2D viewing off-axis and no view reversal. In addition, the company will show its new, 9-inch auto-stereoscopic tablet displays, also featuring full resolution 3D and 2D, with no view reversal, as well as a 400mm viewing distance by leveraging 3M’s advanced 3D Enhancement Film.

3M Tablet Film Increases Battery Life, Reduces Device Thickness and Weight, Without Sacrificing Display Brightness or Quality
3M’s tablet demonstration will leverage four key optical films: APF-V3, an extremely thin, 26 micron, high brightness reflective polarizer; LBR-160, a high efficiency back reflector; as well as BEF4-GMv2 and BEF4-GT, thin, high brightness, Brightness Enhancement Films (BEF). By combining the films, tablet battery life can be extended without sacrificing display quality or brightness. This one of a kind film combination can also be used to increase display brightness by more than 50 percent, enhancing the outdoor viewing experience, in addition to reducing the overall thickness of backlight films by 30 percent*.

Front Light Display Technology for e-Paper Displays Gives Uniform, Energy Efficient Lighting
3M’s new front light display technology provides highly uniform and energy efficient lighting for e-paper displays, while maintaining image quality and thin form factor. The technology creates a display that has all the advantages of e-paper displays in bright and normal lighting and still can be used conveniently and comfortably in dark environments.

Leveraging 3M’s Light Enhancing Films To Enable Energy Savings Without Compromises
This series of demonstrations depicts the innovation that 3M has and is continuing to deliver to the LCD backlight industry. From the current industry standard utilizing 3M’s Dual Brightness Enhancement Film (DBEF) to the future where all that is needed is a back reflector and a new 3M multi-function reflective polarizer that is integrated with the panel, 3M has and will continue to deliver energy saving solutions without any compromises.

Wider Viewing Angles without Sacrificing Brightness
This unique exhibit highlights high-brightness, wide viewing angles and unparalleled picture quality from all directions that are made possible by the benefits of the company’s DBEF solution.

Extended Battery Life (EBL) for Mobile Devices
3M will demonstrate backlight solutions that improve the efficiency of mobile displays and devices—enabling higher brightness and/or longer battery life in high use-modes. Paired comparisons of cell phones running 3M’s Display Monitor Application will demonstrate the improvements in estimated display-on, gaming, movie and Wi-Fi browsing battery life by optimizing the display using 3M’s backlight solutions.

Advanced Structure Optical Composite (ASOC) Makes Thinner Mobile Displays Possible
3M will show prototypes of its 97 micron Advanced Structure Optical Composite (ASOC) film, which will is 3M’s thinnest backlight stack film solution for mobile displays while meeting current crossed prismatic film brightness performance and robustness.

3M Demonstrates Optical Films for Tablet Applications at SID Display Week
2011
[May 16, 2011]

Company’s Tablet Film Increases Battery Life, Reduces Device Thickness and Weight, Without Sacrificing Display Brightness or Quality

3M’s Optical Systems Division today announced that it will debut its new optical film solutions for tablet applications during SID Display Week 2011, taking place in Los Angeles, Calif. May 16-20, 2011.

Specifically, the company’s Display Week tablet demonstration will leverage four key optical films: APF-V3, an extremely thin, 26 micron, high brightness reflective polarizer; LBR-160, a high efficiency back reflector; as well as BEF4-GMv2 and BEF4-GT, thin, high brightness, Brightness Enhancement Films (BEF). By combining the films, tablet battery life can be extended without sacrificing display quality or brightness. This one of a kind film combination can also be used to increase display brightness by more than 50%, enhancing the outdoor viewing experience, in addition to reducing the overall thickness of backlight films by 30%*.

According to DisplaySearch, the global Tablet PC market is forecast to grow 154% Y/Y to 52.4 million units in 2011 and to reach 140 million units by 2013—providing significant growth opportunities for the flat panel display and tablet PC supply chain.

“With this accelerating segment poised for strong growth, 3M continues to develop unique solutions that meet the technical demands and drive the creation of future innovative designs for tablets,” noted Jim Bauman, vice president of 3M’s Optical Systems Division. “The key challenges in the current supply chain are to extend battery life and enable more thinner and lightweight devices. 3M’s advanced optical films meet these requirements and deliver superior performance to meet our customers’ needs.”

3M Ushers in a New Era of Light Management with a New Class of Integrated
Optical Films
 [May 12, 2011]

Company’s Tablet Film Increases Battery Life, Reduces Device Thickness and Weight, Without Sacrificing Display Brightness or Quality

Advancing light management for LCD backlights, 3M’s Optical Systems Division today unveiled a unique solution to address long-standing constraints in LCD backlights. Specifically, the company’s new class of integrated optical films, known as ‘Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film’ (CMOF), can eliminate all free-floating films, as well as the light guide from LED LCD backlights.

“Technology advancements in LEDs have led to exciting developments, such as edge-lit LED LCD TVs,” noted John Wheatley, Division Scientist for 3M’s Optical Systems Division. “Despite this, the continued use of the traditional, multi-film backlight architecture has resulted in constraints that limit innovation in cost, performance, form factor, weight and the supply chain. Our ‘integrated optics’ approach leveraging CMOF and Air Guide technologies addresses these challenges head on—significantly improving the overall environmental profile of these systems and presenting a rare opportunity for collaboration across the supply chain.”

Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film “CMOF” Solution Enables Unique “Light Mixing” Approach

CMOF is based on 3M’s multi-layer optical film technology platform that is used to make current display films such as DBEF reflective polarizers and ESR reflector films. By leveraging CMOF, 3M has demonstrated how to reduce the amount of light management material in an LED LCD backlight by an order of magnitude—significantly improving the overall environmental profile, while enabling non-incremental improvements in cost, as well as the simplicity of products, display systems and supply chain. The company’s ‘integrated optics’ solution also enables a unique, new light management approach, consisting of ‘light mixing’ to addresses fundamental problems to LED displays. As a result of this technology, 3M has developed a new backlight architecture called Air Guide.

Integrated Optics On-Panel: Air Guide

3M’s ability to integrate the light management directly on the panel in the manufacturing process enables a one-step assembly process—making the supply chain even more efficient. Device manufacturers who use LCD panels with 3M optics integrated, can simply place it on the appropriate chassis, made with an integrated ESR reflector. In addition, by leveraging Air Guide, LCD manufacturers will have display systems that are more tolerant to LED binning variations of brightness and color associated with LED manufacturing. This is important since costs associated with binning can account for up to 30% of overall LED manufacturing costs. Monitor, TV, and LCD signage are all potential markets for Air Guide.

“The continuous improvement in LED output and efficiency has created a situation where many displays are now at or will soon approach their uniformity limit. This means that even if LEDs continue to improve, a system cannot use fewer lamps, since it would result in non-uniformity due to the widely spaced points of light,” Wheatley added. “Light mixing changes this, enabling systems with very few, widely spaced LEDs. In fact, a monitor illuminated with a single LED, or a TV with 5 LEDs is not out of the question in the near term.”

Carbon footprint is of increasing importance in assessing environmental impact of products. Carbon footprint includes not only energy efficiency of device power draw, but also the impact of the entire supply chain in making, shipping and packaging required for a device’s manufacture. 3M works with its customers to find ways to continually improve in this area, and integrated optics for LCD is an important part of that effort.

Open Cell Business Model

Lastly, the industry is increasingly moving toward adopting an open cell business model where panel makers will make openly available LCD panels for purchase. 3M’s ability to integrate the light management directly on the panel in its manufacture is well suited to this, and results in an even more efficient supply chain. Device manufacturers would just need to purchase a panel (with 3M optics integrated), and place it on the appropriate chassis.

60.1: LCD Integrated Optics [SID Symposium Digest of Technical Papers — June 2011 — Volume 42, Issue 1, pp. 878-881]

John Wheatley, Tao Liu, Matthew E. Sousa, Stephen Etzkorn, Ellen Bösl, John Van Derlofske, and Quinn Sanford
Optical Systems Division, 3M Company, St. Paul, MN, 55144-1000, USA

C. David Hoyle and Gilles Benoit
Display and Graphics Film Laboratory, 3M Company, St. Paul, MN, 55144-1000, USA

A new class of optical film is demonstrated which addresses fundamental and longstanding constraints in LCD backlights. These films enable displays with highly integrated optics and no free-floating films. Both unitary polarized solid light guides and edge-lit hollow systems without guides are shown. The non-incremental impact on multiple LCD value propositions including waste stream is discussed. Film development has been done on manufacturing scale.

LCD Integrated Optics Presentation in PDF [May 25, 2011]

3M’s Uniformity Tape Allows LCD Manufacturers to Reduce Number of LEDs
without Sacrificing Display Image Brightness or Quality
[May 11, 2011]

Unique Uniformity Tape Enables 3X More LED Spacing, reducing LCD Panel Manufacturing Costs

In an effort to meet LCD manufacturer design flexibility demands, the 3M Optical Systems Division today announced that it has developed a unique solution called Uniformity Tape that will allow LCD manufacturers to reduce the number of LEDs required for edge-lit LED LCD panels at a low cost, without sacrificing brightness or efficiency.

LEDs are becoming brighter and even more efficient—requiring fewer bulbs to achieve target brightness for a given display. Until now, there have been limitations as to how far LEDs can be spaced apart at the edge of an LCD panel because of dark areas that appear between LEDs when they are too far apart. This scenario is commonly referred to as ‘head-lighting’ because it looks like the dark space on the road between the headlights of a car.

3M’s Uniformity Tape is a clear tape, which has adhesive on one side and a micro-replicated optical pattern on the other side. It is adhered to the edge of the light guide, which faces the LED light sources. The tape is designed to increase the spreading of light in the light guide from each LED, which greatly increases the allowable LED spacing. The optical pattern is spatially uniform, meaning that no positional registration of LEDs is required along its length. The Uniformity Tape keeps the edge of the display closest to the LEDs uniform in brightness when the spacing of light sources is increased. This allows panel manufacturers to save money by removing unnecessary LEDs. Uniformity Tape can also increase LED spacing by up to three times the current spacing, while maintaining edge uniformity for a given bezel size.

“As LED technology continues to improve and becomes even brighter, some backlight designs are currently using more LEDs than needed for a brightness specification in order to avoid head lighting or thick bezels. Uniformity constraints have also prevented manufacturers from removing LEDs to save on cost,” noted Gilles Georges, 3M global marketing manager. “By spacing LEDs further apart for edge-lit LED LCD panels, 3M’s Uniformity Tape allows light to travel inside the light guide at wider angles—allowing manufacturers to design wider spacing between LEDs without any dark areas.”

When combined with 3M’s Dual Brightness Enhancement Film (DBEF), Uniformity Tape allows display manufacturers even more design freedom to innovate and use less LEDs to create a backlight that not only meets energy standards, but also remains competitive at a low cost. Furthermore, Uniformity Tape helps device manufacturers meet the growing number of energy efficiency standards around the world.

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About Nacsa Sándor

Lazure Kft. • infokommunikációs felhő szakértés • high-tech marketing • elérhetőség: snacsa@live.com Okleveles villamos és automatizálási mérnök (1971) Munkahelyek: Microsoft, EMC, Compaq és Digital veterán. Korábban magyar cégek (GDS Szoftver, Computrend, SzáMOK, OLAJTERV). Jelenleg Lazure Kft. Amire szakmailag büszke vagyok (időrendben visszafelé): – Microsoft .NET 1.0 … .NET 3.5 és Visual Studio Team System bevezetések Magyarországon (2000 — 2008) – Digital Alpha technológia vezető adatközponti és vállalati szerver platformmá tétele (másokkal együttes csapat tagjaként) Magyarországon (1993 — 1998) – Koncepcionális modellezés (ma használatos elnevezéssel: domain-driven design) az objektum-orientált programozással kombinált módon (1985 — 1993) – Poszt-graduális képzés a miniszámítógépes szoftverfejlesztés, konkurrens (párhuzamos) programozás és más témákban (1973 — 1984) Az utóbbi időben általam művelt területek: ld. lazure2.wordpress.com (Experiencing the Cloud) – Predictive strategies based on the cyclical nature of the ICT development (also based on my previous findings during the period of 1978 — 1990) – User Experience Design for the Cloud – Marketing Communications based on the Cloud
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