Smart car windshields in full color
CEA-Leti researchers are working with Optys (a Nexter company) to improve smart car windshield technology and get it ready for manufacturing.
Smart windshields display information useful to drivers for an augmented-reality experience at the wheel. The helmet-based system in development includes both data acquisition and projection capabilities. Originally intended for military applications, the system could be of interest to the security, emergency response, and construction markets.
The researchers are currently working on an alternative to the monochromatic hologram system implemented for the research demonstrator that would enable full-color images and lower manufacturing costs.
Microoled ships its 100,000th display
Microoled, located at MINATEC, designs and manufactures high-definition, low-power microdisplays that leverage a technology developed in partnership with CEA-Leti. The rapidly-growing start-up, which is now seven years old, has shipped more than 100,000 displays since 2012.
From its inception, Microoled has set its sights on a wide range of consumer and BtoB markets in France and internationally, with the potential applications for its microdisplays encompassing healthcare, defense and security, camera viewfinders, connected glasses, and shooting and hunting lenses. Today, 99% of the company’s revenue comes from export sales. And the company is planning additional investments and an expanded sales staff in the US and Asia by 2017. By then Microoled’s balance sheet will be in the black and the start-up will be all grown up!
Movea acquired by US-based InvenSense
Just seven years after it was founded, Movea was acquired by US-based InvenSense this summer. Movea’s CEO Sam Guilaumé had been gearing up for the deal for a year and a half. He had informed the French company’s shareholders of the planned acquisition, moved to California, and contracted a US investment bank to handle the transaction. In all, Movea was presented to 34 potential buyers.
Meanwhile, sensor-maker InvenSense was seeking to acquire companies that could round out its existing product lineup and bring added value to its products. Movea, which is at the leading edge of multisensor data fusion, fit the bill perfectly. It has around 50 employees in Grenoble and plans to continue its activities here, including its joint lab with Leti.
Isorg and Primo1D raise nearly €10 million
This summer was a record one for two Grenoble start-ups. Isorg, which specializes in printed electronics, raised €6.4 million, while Primo1D, which focuses on integrated electronics for textiles and plastics, brought in more than €10 million.
For Isorg, founded in 2010, the fresh capital will help the company achieve its target manufacturing launch date of late 2015-early 2016, most notably by providing some of the €18 million investment required to build a new plant in southwestern France. The company was given an opportunity to build its plant in Isère—with an earlier delivery date—but the southwestern-France location was more cost-competitive.
Primo1D, founded in 2013, plans to use the influx of funds to speed progress toward industrial rollout. The company plans to sharpen its market focus on textile traceability applications with its E-Thread®, which includes a miniature RFID tag that is invisible in finished fabric.
Samsung chooses FD-SOI
Grenoble’s microelectronics industry just brought home a big win. Global smartphone leader Samsung recently signed a strategic contract with STMicroelectronics with a view to integrating the semiconductor giant’s 28 nm FD-SOI technology into future generations of Samsung products.
STMicroelectronics, Soitec, and Leti have been working together to improve FD-SOI over the past several years. The material is now capable of meeting the requirements of mobile communications devices, offering benefits like enhanced performance, extended battery life, and lower manufacturing costs—all without the need to overhaul current design and manufacturing processes.
In addition to the 28 nm technology covered by the contract with Samsung, Leti is already hard at work on the next generations of FD-SOI (14 nm and 10 nm).
Six motion sensors on just 4 mm2 of silicon
Tronics recently presented a revolutionary MEMS concept invented by Leti. The new MEMS packs in an impressive three accelerometers and three gyrometers on just 4 mm2 of silicon. The ultra-compact system will target the mobile phone market where it will enhance features like gaming and switching mobile phone cameras from portrait to landscape mode. There is currently nothing else like it anywhere in the world.
A suspended piezoresistive silicon nanowire—around 100 times smaller than the silicon beam currently used—detects movement. The signal is significantly amplified, and power consumption is very low. The new system could also be used for pressure sensors, magnetometers, microphones, and other devices that could be integrated onto the chip using a 100% silicon process.
Some fifteen patents have been filed.
Fluoptics combines color and fluorescence imaging
Start-up Fluoptics is working with Leti to develop a dual-mode endoscope camera head that can simultaneously capture images of structures marked with fluorescent contrast medium and surrounding tissue in natural color. This advancement will give surgeons a clear picture of cancerous tissue superimposed on a color image of the surgical site. Currently, for minimally-invasive surgery, doctors must constantly switch between the two types of images and then manually adjust.
The Fluoptics prototype boasts two CCD cameras (one monochromatic, the other color) that receive two types of light signals via a series of mirrors and filters. The acquisition frequency is 25 images per second. The main challenge is to simultaneously acquire a color signal and a fluorescence signal that is a million times less intense.