Sunday, May 15, 2011

Will Microsoft acquire Lumus Optical?

There is a rumor going around that Microsoft is negotiating the acquisition of Lumus Optical. Lumus is a startup company that developed a clever see-through eyewear. The company originally targeted both the professional (e.g. defense) market as well as the consumer market, though it reportedly sold off its defense business to focus on the consumer side. The public specifications of its product show a low-resolution (640x480), narrow field of view (27 degrees) display, but one that could be made to resemble a pair of normal glasses.

Publicly, Lumus has been keeping a very low profile. The most recent press release or news article on its Web site, for instance, is dated some two years ago. If it not for their promotion of the upcoming SID show, an outsider could conclude that Lumus is out of business.

Of course, it may very well be that this rumor is untrue or that the acquisition talks will not come through, but it's a good opportunity to analyze where such an acquisition could fit.

One place where a see-through display could fit is with the Microsoft mobile division as part of the Windows phone initiatives. A classic use case of a Bluetooth-equipped see-through display with a phone is showing the caller ID inside the glasses so that the user does not have to pull out or look down at the phone. With phones become more and more sophisticated, dynamic driving directions have also been discussed.

How much would people be willing to pay for such glasses and what would they cost to make? This has been a classic chicken-and-egg problem for goggle manufacturers, where price depends on quantity and quantity depends on price. If Microsoft were to bring this product to market, they could all but guarantee a large enough quantity to make these economical.

Another possible home for a see-through display ix the XBOX group. If motion sensing (e.g. Wii, Kinect) was the last big thing in gaming, 3D, immersion and freedom of motion could be the next. I find this a bit less likely that mobile because gaming often requires immersion and 27 degrees of FOV, at least for the current product, is far from being immersive.

One way or the other, such an acquisition would be a nice shot in the arm for all the goggle vendors trying to find their way to a mainstream market.

If Microsoft ends up acquiring Lumus, you've heard it first here! If they don't, I just might change the title of this post to "Should Microsoft acquire Lumus".

1 comment:

mayloveheal said...

recently i got a tip on lumus opticals and a look at their website is promising an exciting product ... since project natal ( remember, that was kinect in the devellopmen stage ) was being reported on, i wished for a portable solution ... and preferably one non-camera based, with what i would introduce an idea of an alternative input with kind of radio frequency id tags ( or bluetooth, infrared, microwave signal senders ) built into clothes for example what transmit many in a second position updates to the pocketable tiny processor ... and from there it is fed into light transparent goggles like lumus ones ... application ideas :
lying on one s back watching the blue sky, one is editing a video shot some hours before with arm up down sideways swiping pinching and chrunching the failed scences with a movement like one would crunch a piece of paper to sportingly throw it into the garbage basket ... sitting on a bench beside a calm lake, patiently waiting for the inspiration to strike and when its here, one still looks at the lake and the fingers type the poem on the upper legs, the words appear on top of the lake in a custom setted percentage within the dataglasses.... dancing on the lawn, the constantly position signal sending sensors within trousers, shirts and gloves allow playing instruments of any kind in a highly customizable way of 360 degree 3 dimensional "keyboard", one could play a flute with one arm, the guitar with the other and the drums with the legs, plus it could be interpreted on a visual layer too, so the real lawn seen trough the glasses, the image of oneself moving transmitted by the sensors and displayed at a certain percentage within the dataglasses plus the color and form visualization of sounds and or movements, all blended together
in many variable ways....
but to comment on the article and its aquisation thesis, i would like to mention a thought i had earlier today:

is it thinkable, that inventors and small researching/develloping groups could form a plattform together with big and strong financially backed up companies being well introduced in the markets with huge installed customerbases ?
like, could the inventors keep a saying when it comes to integrating the new product within the allready installed environment ? could it be beneficial for the big companies to choose the decentral avenue, networking, cooperating ? to breathe the fresh and rich air of dynamic change, adaption, fluid decision processes ... no thoughts about investment and return projections ... just trusting and having fun that a good product being supported with skilled and experienced engineers, designers, marketers, a kind of openly mixed together structure, everyone contributes what one knows and needs get satisfied on the go by anyone who is capable of doing it ... regardless from what angle the advice or line of software comes ... also the integration of customer wishes and feedbacks and inviting them to contribute elements of sollutions ....