We spoke with Greg Heinzinger, senior vice president and general manager of QUALCOMM MEMS Technologies about the business unit’s MEMS-based display technology.
MEMS Investor Journal: Can you briefly talk about QUALCOMM MEMS Technologies and its history?
Greg Heinzinger: QUALCOMM MEMS Technologies business unit was formed about a year ago after we purchased Iridigm Display Corporation in October 2004. We participated in a Series A investment round with Iridigm in 2001 and have been involved with the company since then. We believe the company's iMoD (interferometric modulator) display technology is far superior to the currently predominant LCD technology used in cell phones.
MEMS Investor Journal: What are the main problems with LCD technology?
Greg Heinzinger: The problem is that LCD requires too much power. The cell phone is becoming a platform for things such as gaming, video, blogging, photos—and even a computing platform. All of these require more use of the display, and current displays, such as LCDs, are not up to the task. As users continue to adopt more mobile lifestyles, they will want cell phone displays to be “always on.” Thus, a technology which requires less power will be superior in the future. In addition, displays based on iMoD technology look good in any environment – even in bright sunlight. Again, current LCDs are not up to the task.
MEMS Investor Journal: Has iMoD technology been fully commercialized at this point?
Greg Heinzinger: Not yet, we are in the middle of an 18-month technology transfer cycle.
MEMS Investor Journal: What technology transfer and commercialization challenges are you encountering?
Greg Heinzinger: There have been a couple of main challenges that we are working through. First, we are going from a pure MEMS/IC process to a process which is similar to the LCD display manufacturing process. So there have been challenges with re-tooling of the manufacturing line. Encapsulation and packaging has been a challenge as well. And finally, we are of course facing traditional technology scale-up challenges.
MEMS Investor Journal: Have you been looking at other MEMS technologies for cell phones such as MEMS microphones and RF MEMS?
Greg Heinzinger: Yes, we've been looking at those a bit, but our main focus is on our MEMS display technology.
MEMS Investor Journal: Where are you doing your manufacturing?
Greg Heinzinger: The majority of our manufacturing is in Taiwan.
MEMS Investor Journal: Do you currently have any forecasts for sales of the new display units in 2005-2006?
Greg Heinzinger: We don't yet have specific forecasts, but we expect significant demand from cell phone and GPS as well as other manufacturers.
MEMS Investor Journal: In conclusion, what advice would you have for other people who are commercializing MEMS technologies?
Greg Heinzinger: The main objective is to assure customers that MEMS is a mainstream technology at this point. Many of the technical aspects are worked out, and so the challenge now is to properly position MEMS based technologies.