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Himax backs Obsidian in sensor firm's latest debt financing

29 May 2024

Fabless Taiwanese provider of display electronics is latest to support developer of thermal imaging cameras.

San Diego-based Obsidian Sensors, which has developed a high-resolution thermal imaging sensor said to be compatible with mass production on existing manufacturing lines, has attracted investment from Taiwan electronics provider Himax Technologies.

The strategic move, which sees Himax as the lead investor in Obsidian’s convertible loan note financing, extends an existing relationship between the two firms.

“In addition to an ongoing engineering collaboration where Obsidian leverages Himax's IC design resources and know-how, the two companies also aim to combine the advantages of Himax’s 'WiseEye' ultralow-power AI processors with Obsidian’s high-resolution thermal imaging to create an advanced thermal vision solution,” they announced.

“This would complement Himax's existing AI capabilities and ecosystem support, improving detection in challenging environments and boosting accuracy and reliability, thereby opening doors to a wide array of applications, including industrial, automotive safety and autonomy, and security systems.”

Automotive potential
The extended tie-up comes just a week after Obsidian agreed a manufacturing partnership centered on automobile applications with another Taiwan company, the major contract manufacturer Quanta Computing.

The San Diego firm has previously attracted investors including Qualcomm Ventures, Hyundai, Hyundai Mobis, SK Walden, and Innolux.

According to various US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filings it raised $3.6 million of a $22 million equity target in 2018, followed by a further $2.5 million a year later and $3 million of a targeted $6 million debt finance in 2022.

Commenting on the latest support, Obsidian CEO John Wong said: “[We] look forward to a fruitful collaboration to potentially merge our market-leading thermal imaging sensor and camera technologies with Himax’s advanced ultralow-power ‘WiseEye’ endpoint AI, leveraging each other's domain expertise.

“Furthermore, progress has been made in the engineering projects for mixed signal integrated circuits, leveraging Himax’s decades of experience in image processing. Given our disruptive cost and scale advantage, this partnership will enable us to better cater to the needs of the rapid-growing thermal imaging market.”

Himax CEO Jordan Wu added: “We see great potential in Obsidian Sensors' revolutionary high-resolution thermal imaging sensor. Further, we see tremendous potential of Obsidian’s technology in the automotive sector where Himax already holds a dominant position in display semiconductors.”

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