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Business briefs

16 Jun 2008

Featuring news from DisplaySearch, Thales UK, iSuppli, Varioptic, Luxtera and more.

• The total European TV market is expected to grow by 24% between 2007 and 2012, with shipments rising from 42.9 million to 53.1 million units. This increase will be driven in particular by the Eastern European market, which is forecast to expand by 31% to 15.4 million by 2012. The current rate of uptake of flat-panel TVs in Eastern Europe is as fast as it was in Western Europe and Japan in 2005 and 2006. CRT television shipments are consequently falling fast and are forecast to effectively vanish after 2011, according to the Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report from DisplaySearch. The report also includes a forecast for shipments of OLED TVs, which are expected to reach just over 1 million units in Europe in 2012.

Thales UK and Scottish Enterprise have launched the Thales Scottish Technology Prize for laser technology and applications. The competition aims to strengthen links between Thales and the Scottish academic community and to identify opportunities for collaborative working between the company and universities in Scotland. A substantial prize fund is on offer, with a first prize of £40,000 to support the winner's current research, as well as smaller personal cash prizes for the winner and finalists. Prizes will be awarded for the most innovative ideas for using new laser technology applicable to Thales' laser business. The competition is open to all staff and students attending Scottish universities, and the winners will be announced in December 2008.

• Flexible displays are playing an increasing role as the enabling technology for new portable devices designed to combine mobility with compelling user interfaces. The total flexible display market will reach $2.8 billion by 2013, a significant expansion from the $80 million the sector was worth in 2007. The arrival of products such as Polymer Vision's Readius pocket-sized e-reader along with the establishment of several batch and roll-to-roll manufacturing facilities are highlighted as promoting rapid market growth in a forecast from iSuppli.

• The construction of a Quantum Optics Centre in Torun, Poland, has commenced, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010. The centre is intended to be a modern research centre for quantum optics and natural and biomedical science in Poland, and will be headquartered on the premises of the Torun Institute of Physics. Overall investment costs will amount to PLN25 million ($11 million), of which PLN22 million will be subsidized from EU funds. The Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun has signed a contract for concept architectural design and construction of the centre.

• The S1300 and S2000 AF SnakeCams launched by China's Shenzhen Akkord Electronics include Varioptic's Arctic 416 variable focus liquid lens, and represent the first use of the company's liquid lens product in a consumer application. Future co-operation between the two companies is expected to broaden webcam applications for the liquid lens technology, which is already targeted at industrial camera systems such as barcode readers, dental cameras and machine-vision cameras.

Specialised Imaging has delivered the SIM-16, a 16 channel camera capable of capturing images at 200 million frames per second with gating down to 5 ns, to the UK's EPSRC Engineering Instrument Pool. Claimed to be the first such instrument in the world, it will be available to UK university-based researchers to address imaging applications in plasma physics and other fields. The optical design of the SIM is said to provide the choice of 4, 6, 8 or 16 separate optical channels while eliminating effects such as parallax and shading.

Bio Nano Consulting (BNC), a specialist bio-nanotechnology product development consultancy, has commissioned a new laser micromachining system for fabricating features down to 5 µm in almost any solid material. The new system facilitates BNC's rapid prototype fabrication capability for commercial organizations developing microfluidics and other novel biomedical applications of nanotechnology. Housed within the BNC's new Imperial College London laboratories, the Oxford Lasers E-series laser micromachining system is the latest asset in an investment of over £50 million in facilities and equipment, and is claimed to be able to drill, cut and mill materials including silicon, glass, plastic, ceramic and metal with micron-level accuracy.

Luxtera will collaborate with the other members of the Video Electronics Standards Association to further the development of the Monitor Control Command Set (MCCS) Standard for digital signs. The MCCS is a universal set of commands used to control screen settings of digital displays, expected to provide a universal and standardized way to install digital signs at a much lower cost. The intention is to eliminate the need for the RS232 serial port cable and proprietary software currently required for digital sign installations.

Northrop Grumman has received a contract worth $53 million from the US Army to provide over 150 of the company's Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder (LLDR) systems that provide targeting capability for laser-guided, GPS-guided and conventional munitions. LLDR accurately targets enemy positions in nearly all battlefield conditions, and provides this information to other digital battlefield systems. The contract forms part of the previously awarded $336 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for lightweight laser designator rangefinder components.

SPIE has installed a new solar electric system on the roof of its Bellingham headquarters, which includes 75 solar panels and is expected to generate around 15,700 kilowatt hours per year. According to installers Ecotech Energy Systems, it is the largest solar-electricity-generating installation in the county and is intended to counter the perception that northwest Washington state is too cloudy for solar electricity generation to be effective.

People
• Rudolf Humer has been named chairman of the supervisory board of Jenoptik, replacing Jörg Menno Harms. Christian Humer has also joined the company's supervisory board.

Picarro has appointed Iain Green as director of marketing and named Mark Davis as vice-president of sales. Green has over 10 years of experience as a marketing executive in the field of analytical instruments, and was previously senior marketing manager of NMR products for Varian. Davis has held various executive and sales leadership positions in analytical instrumentation since 1989. See the previous coverage of Picarro and its gas analysers based on wavelength-scanned cavity ring down spectroscopy on optics.org.

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