Monday, January 11, 2016

CES Impressions

I didn't really type up my impressions from CES. A few important impressions stick out, that give me great confidence for the future.

  • I think the Qualper phone, ViewSmart device and the PicoBit are all made by the same large company. (Just to be clear -- no one in any position of authority told me so.) Maybe they're a shell company for SONY, or maybe for SAMSUNG. The quality of the devices was excellent, and the three devices look very similar. (The little projector door looks exactly the same on all three devices.) Celluon seems to have some connection with SAMSUNG, and the device contains a SONY PicoP module. The exterior of the device seems a lot like the SONY phone I carry. I am suspicious that this is connected to the new smartphone factory Sony has built in Thailand. (Only my suspicions.)  The devices are awesome, and I KNOW people will want them.
  • Haier and R2D2: We missed an opportunity for some great publicity with an American Cultural Icon. Yes, MicroVision is in a robotic refrigerator with a projector in the shape of R2D2. The news isn't the robotic refrigerator. The news is that we have a foot in the door of a major manufacturer. The only glimpse I got of R2 was this in the back of the display, covered for an unstated reason. When I returned one of their representatives told me that he couldn't be seen because of Disney licensing agreements. They have the Star Wars license in Japan, but not in the USA. So R2 Stays under cover.
  • Sharp didn't participate in the show. They are clearly, however, marketing their PicoP engine as a separate component.

  • Eyewear. This year, Augmented reality glasses were around the place like GoPro like cameras were around the place last year. Every time you turn around, there's a pair of virtual reality or augmented reality glasses. I was impressed with the effect of the Virtual reality goggles I tried (from HTC) It's an extremely immersive experience. The resolution leaves something to be desired though. 
  • Augmented reality is going to be a place for MicroVision to truly shine. I went out to my way to try every pair of Augmented Reality glasses I could find. In  twenty years we'll laugh at how primitive what is out there now really is. I tried the glasses that Robert Scoble calls the BEST a couple of times, from a couple of different companies. They had great difficulty adjusting them for my head, and the field of view, although called the best, was kind of bad. Imagine holding a laptop at arm's length in front of you. That's the size of the screen of information they had available. -- still really cool, but not very good -- especially since that information is right in front of what you want to be looking at. When I tried on MicroVision's NOMAD -- the field of view was like holding a 40" television screen at arm's length -- and I'm told the field of view is now larger -- and higher resolution - and in color. While most of the work that goes on around these things has been software and interface -- adding a better display is going to be relatively straight forward and essential for them to get wider adoption. There is one other head mounted display that I think *might* compete: The BMW Head mounted display. I did not get a chance to see this. It's going to be a big space - even if this is competition that will be okay.
  • SONY: Sony makes most or all of its money selling components. PicoP is an additional component for them to sell. It's an off the shelf LARGE display that takes up very little room. Expect it to be popular. 
    • Expect other OEMS to go to the SONY (& Sharp) modules before they consider making their own.
    • Know that when there is demand - SONY will be able to ramp up production faster than you think.
    • Also remember that SONY is a risk averse company -- they do far better selling components than their own products. (they'd rather fill demand for components than stick their necks out on their own consumer products.)
    • SONY is probably doing things that MicroVision isn't aware of. That's okay. If they have a contract with a large OEM - they're going to have NDA's to deal with as well.
  • The MP-CL1 isn't part of the projector division at SONY -- it's being sold by the BATTERY division. (This is an important consideration -- it NEVER occurred to me that it would be sold by battery guys) 
  • NDA's are still huge. 
  • I've never been more confident about the prospects for this company.

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