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Cambridge firm gets $26m for tiny-projector tech

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A Cambridge company looking to develop miniaturised projection systems for use in converged handsets has secured $26m of VC funding.

Light Blue Optics raised the cash principally from Earlybird of Germany and Capital-E from Belgium. Funding was also forthcoming from the British 3i group and the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, both of whom had already participated in an initial $3.5m seed funding round.

"The closure of this US$26m funding round will allow us to accelerate our product development and commercialisation programme towards the high-volume manufacture of miniature projection systems," Light Blue CEO Dr Chris Harris said.

Privately-owned Light Blue is looking to develop its holographic laser projection technology. This projects a 2D flat image just as a normal projector does, but the company expects to achieve significant improvements in size and power consumption over existing options.

At present, a Light Blue projector is cigarette-packet sized; advanced versions for inclusion in future mobile handsets could be more like a "sugar cube", according to a report in today's Financial Times. Light Blue also reckons the kit could be useful for heads-up displays in aircraft, and - in future - cars and digital signage.

"Our vision is to becoem the world's leading supplier of miniature projection systems," says Light Blue. The company believes there will be a worldwide $5bn market for such kit by 2012.

However, established players are already active in this area, and there is also an emerging threat from new foldable/rollable display technology. ®

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