Lumiode, Born from Columbia Technology Ventures, Shines at CES Eureka Park

1/18/13Follow @jpruth

It is getting harder to stand out—in a good way—among startups that exhibit at International CES, thanks to the growth of Eureka Park. Lumiode, a New York-based developer of technology to make electronic displays much brighter and more energy efficient, traveled to last week’s conference in Las Vegas as part of Columbia Technology Ventures. Though the technology is still a couple of years from production stage, Lumiode sees an opportunity to create high resolution displays in very small spaces such as heads-up displays and handheld projectors.

Brian Tull, vice president of research and development with Lumiode, says the startup formed last September through the Columbia Technology Ventures technology transfer program. Lumiode uses multiple, tiny, pixelated LEDs as the light source as well as the image component for electronic displays. This differs from technology in many consumer electronics, which use a single LED to backlight laptop and cell phone screens with layers of other material providing the visual content. “We’re making displays in a similar way that Times Square displays are made, but we’re doing it on an extremely small scale,” Tull says.

This startup's technology could make digital displays smaller, brighter, and more energy efficient.

He refers to digital displays in Times Square that use individual LED lights to create each pixel for images shining above the streets. Tull says Lumiode is exploring uses for its technology in various displays, and 3-D printing. “[This is] something that could be mounted in a phone, a tablet, computer, or head-mounted displays like Google Glasses,” he says.

Google’s Project Glass is a program in the works to develop technology that puts digital information and controls onto an eyeglass-like, head-mounted display. For now such computerized “glasses” are only in the hands of developers, with a possible consumer release hinted for later this year or early 2014. Though there have been prior efforts by others to create wearable, head-mounted displays, Google’s efforts have created new interest in this sector.

Lumiode’s technology could offer greater control of the intensity of the light in microdisplays, according to Tull. The startup claims its technology can shine 30 times brighter than other display technology while being more energy efficient. “We change the brightness of the pixels individually to make darks and whites, or turn them off completely when they’re not needed,” he says.

The research is backed by funding from the National Science Foundation and military research grants. Lumiode co-founder John Sarik says after the team finishes a proof-of-concept prototype, the next step will be to find manufacturing partners. Tull foresees the technology being incorporated into devices made by others. In the near term, the technology could go into lower-level resolution displays with higher resolutions measured in the thousands of pixels to follow. “We think within a year or two we’ll have prototype-level products,” Tull says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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