Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


NOVLASE Report Summary

Project ID: 697818

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NOVLASE (Novel light sources for biomedical-imaging applications)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Brighterwave has created a novel laser light source technology for various biomedical-imaging, industrial and consumer electronics applications. The aim of NOVLASE was to find the most potential applications and understand these target markets, potential key customers and main competitors and their technologies. The plan was to revise company's product roadmap and make an application-specific product to one of the target markets and receive feedback from a customer. Production ramp-up planning and overall project management and coordination were also a part of the project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Task 1: Enhanced understanding of target markets and key customers
More than 700 people visited our booth at Photonics West 2016 exhibition for lasers and laser systems (16-18 Feb, San Francisco, USA). We met with a large pool of potential customers most of which represented consumer electronics markets (virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) eyewear or in other words laser/smart glasses). We also got new contacts to manufacturers of advanced bioanalytical, industrial and scientific instruments and imaging tools. After the exhibition, customer interaction (meetings, e-mails, phone calls) has been the most active with VR/AR manufactures. Collaboration with bioanalytical partners are also active but we have learned that their product development cycles are longer than in VR/AR. We have a good understanding on customers’ laser requirements and component purchasing processes. For example, VR/AR customers want laser projectors which are low power, low cost, eye-safe, suitable for mass-production and produce excellent image quality. We categorized key customers based on their application and our product/solution. More than 100 companies have been identified 90% of which locate in Japan and USA.

We made literature searches and studies on biomedical-imaging and other imaging markets. Our key findings are
1. Global endoscopy instrument market is expected to grow from $23.3billion in 2010 to $33.7 billion in 2016
2. Global market for VR/AR reached €7.3 billion in 2015 showing a significant growth compared to €4 billion in 2014. Digital-Capital forecasts Global market for VR/AR revenues to hit €105 billion by 2020 with AR taking the largest share of the market and counting for €79 billion. The VR/AR hardware market is estimated to be roughly 40b€ in 2020 which is our main target market.

Task 2: In-depth competitor analysis
For endoscopy applications we analyzed competitors’ most up-to-date light source products / technologies, compared them to our offering and made a list of competitive advantages. We found our products are superior in many ways like
- We can make any visible wavelength 400…700nm (competitors have only few specific wavelengths available)
- We can offer simple low-cost laser design
- Our laser products are >70% smaller than competing solutions
- We made a competitor analysis which included a freedom-to-operate survey among 800 patents, patent applications and publications that confirmed we have the full rights to commercially exploit our technology in all key markets.

For VR/AR applications, we analyzed competing technologies, products, patents and publications. Our laser technology enables fabrication of ultra-compact laser projectors. Such laser projectors are based on our novel ultra-compact RGB laser source and MEMS scanning mirror (multiple suppliers). Brighterwave will design and sell laser projectors. Our laser projectors can be >90% smaller, consume >70% less electrical power, offer outstanding image quality and have a form-factor small enough to enable consumer-friendly VR/AR eyewear vs. competing solutions.

Task 3: Development of application-specific laser light source
Due a long product development cycle in biomedical industry and a very strong traction from potential VR/AR customers, we decided to first convert customers’ application-specific requirements to laser product specifications for VR/AR. We first simulated the key components (laser diode and nonlinear crystal) and then purchased them from our suppliers. We characterized the components using the laboratories of Optoelectronics Research Centre in Tampere, Finland. We designed and built a laser projector demonstrator which projects a virtual image directly to the human eye – this is the revolutionary technology platform for the next generation VR/AR eyewear. We made datasheets and handling instructions for laser projector including marketing materials. The same RGB light source inside the projector can be used for retinal imaging to detect early symptoms of diabetes.

Task 4: Product sampling and production ramp-up planning
We have sold the first system to a large consumer electronics company and expect to receive more orders from new customers by Autumn 2016. In addition, we verified the supply chain and sales channels for our laser light source and laser projector products.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Due to the updated business model of the company where we move up in the value chain (from laser light source component supplier to laser projector subsystem supplier) we can generate >5x more revenue vs. the original business model before NOVLASE. We expect to need 4-5 m€ to commercialize our novel laser projector and laser light sources products for various target applications. We pursue the Phase 2 project which is seen as a crucial source of funding. In addition, we are currently in discussions with parties for a possible investment to the company. We aim to secure sufficient resources by the year end 2016 and prepare the company for a strong projected growth.

We continue developing and introducing single-color laser modules with single-/multimode fibers for biomedical instruments like endoscopy, industrial applications like particle measurement and scientific applications like Raman measurements. The Phase 1 project confirmed that 90% of the potential revenue comes from the AR/VR eyewear applications (the other 10% is expected from medical applications), hence the focus is there. We develop our main product - ultra-compact laser projector - to meet the stringent requirements of VR and VR applications. We have already sold demonstrators of retinal scanning projections systems to a large consumer electronics company and we see strong interest from other large enterprises as well.

We believe our RGB (red-green-blue) laser module which acts as the heart of the laser projector has features which make it the best laser light solution for VR and AR applications. One unique feature is related to the eye-safety. The recent European Directive 2001/95/EC for the eye safety requirements of consumer laser products states that: "Child appealing consumer laser products shall not cause damage to the eyes or the skin in case of any exposure to laser radiation that could occur under any conditions of use". The maximum allowed optical power to enter the eye is <0.4 milliwatts. Retinal scanning based AR/VR eyewear requires roughly 400 times less than this - about 0.001 milliwatts. Our laser meets these regulations under all conditions which is not the case with competing lasers like laser diodes which make our vision to become the technology and market leader by 2020 easier."

Related information

Record Number: 190111 / Last updated on: 2016-11-07
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