Interview with Opus Microsystems' President and head of R&D

Opus Microsystems logo Opus Microsystems is a Taiwanese MEMS design company, established in January 2004. Opus focuses on delivering MEMS based laser scan pico-projector solution. Opus' solution is a two-axis, electrostatic driven device. Opus' is working with local foundries for process compatibility and standard IC format packaging.

Andrew Hung photo Andrew Hung, the president and R&D manager of Opus Microsystems has agreed to answer a few questions we had about their technology...  Andres has 13 yrs experience in MEMS and semiconductor industries. He received his PhD and MS degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.

Q: What are the specifications of your pico projector?
We are planning to release a 10 lumen, VGA/WVGA resolution and 9cc volume light engine with an optical partner by end of 2009. We expect to provide a 5cc light engine with WVGA resolution in the second half of 2010 for mobile phone embedded applications.

Q: How will your laser projector compete with DLP or LCoS based projectors?
For standalone applications, the main differentiations are better color representation, focus free operation and lower power consumption with less heat generation. For embedded applications, we see great advantages in terms of lumen efficacy, smaller and thinner light engine, and lower cost at higher resolution.

Q: Will you be making a pico-projector module? Or just the mirror-scanning part?
We will provide a pico-projector module including a MEMS light engine and a scan display controller chip with system reference design to customers to shorten their time to market. We will provide the MEMS mirror only to specific strategic partner.

Q: In February 2009 you got a government grant (SBIR) project. Can you give us more info on that?
The SBIR program is to sponsor innovative research and product development from small to medium business entities in Taiwan. There are two phases of the project with primary objective of completing development of a pico-projector module with SVGA resolution in 2010. We have completed the Phase I feasibility evaluation by demonstrating a working prototype to the review committee in 2008. We are now in the Phase II program to complete the VGA pico-projector module in 2009 and a SVGA module in 2010.  Through the program, we are also establishing manufacturing infrastructure from local partners to facilitate commercialization.

Q: How will Opus' laser projector compare with other companies (such as Microvision, bTendo, Maradin, etc.) solutions?
Microvision is using electromagnetic MEMS mirror that requires dedicated MEMS process and dedicated packaging technologies. bTendo is also using electrostatic MEMS but with single axis structure that adds assembly complexity and cost. We have little information on Maradin and cannot comment. Our technology allows us to leverage mature semiconductor supply chain in Taiwan and we believe this is a key success factor for a design company.

Q: Just a few days ago, Syndiant's CTO claimed that "laser projectors are simply not viable" . Do you have any comment on that?
We believe his comments on Laser Beam Steering technology are only correct on the speckle noise issue which is expected to be resolved in 2010. I also expect LCoS people adopting laser in 2~3 years to try to overcome low efficacy problem and focus free demand from customers. They would also need to solve speckle noise issue.

Q: Laser projectors suffer from the Speckle effect. How will that effect your projector picture quality?
While many people don’t think speckle noise bother them, speckle noise does smear small text characters and image contents. We found major customers are having concerns so we are working internally and are collaborating with external parties in resolving this issue.

Q: How are you planning to resolve the Speckle issue? will it be a software or hardware based approach?

we are working on both hardware and software levels.  For hardware, we are working on optical means.  I believe laser driver companies are also working on laser driver solutions.  For software, we are working on image and laser driver control.

Q: What are you views on the Pico Projector market? Where do you see this market in 3 years? What role will Opus make?
We believe 2010 will be the true beginning year of pico-projector due to economy recovery. In three years, the market will be booming with devices providing better light efficiency and higher image resolution at lower cost. Opus is posed to provide competitive solutions to support customers’ products.

Thanks Andres for this great interview. I wish you and Opus Microsystems good luck!

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