Light Blue Optics says it is ready to start expanding the company again having sidelined its holographic laser projector to focus on software for touch technology, a strategy it says is showing early signs of success.
Co-founder Nic Lawrence says the company has landed a major contract and that with others in the offing the new business model is on course to deliver Light Blue Optics' (LBO) best year in terms of revenues.
Dropping its projection work entirely to focus on software is a major strategy shift for one of Cambridge's most exciting young tech companies, one that has raised around $45m in equity funding principally for the development of the unique holographic projection technology spun out of Cambridge University in 2004.
The original model looked to develop and produce the projectors and apply them in a number of different markets, but it struggled to generate either the interest or revenue LBO had once forecast, prompting investors to look for a new strategy under a new CEO, Barak Maoz.
Maoz revealed to Cabume this change in model late last year though held back on details, saying only that it was no longer interested in producing its own projectors and would instead look to partners to find out how best to leverage its technology.
Cabume can now reveal that hardware development has been dropped entirely, which means no LBO designed laser projections from mobile handsets or clever car dashboards. However, the software skills developed to bring the hardware to life is staying and in what is good news for the city, LBO is now after more software engineers to deliver on contracts with a target of increasing headcount by around a quarter in 2012 at its Cambridge headquarters.
"We have broken the link between hardware and software," said Lawrence. Reluctantly using a startup buzzword, he says LBO has undertaken a classic technology 'pivot'.
"We used to link everything to our own projector but not any more. We still work with lasers and have a deep understanding of hardware, which is what makes our software really powerful. We still have an input on the hardware side and specify components, but only deliver software."
LBO isn't offering too much detail on the new software work. Lawrence says its "touch, gesture and motion" related while Maoz, who Lawrence believes has brought a much more scientific and targeted approach to LBO, describes it in general terms as being about interfacing with computers.
Cabume understands that the technology does have a multi-touch capability, making it suitable for interaction with large numbers of people at once. An initial sector could be education where Lawrence says the UK excels at bringing new technology into schools. The software can also be applied to large scale displays.
With its reduced cost base and early contracts, Lawrence says LBO won't need to go any further than existing investors for new money if any is needed at all. It's new software model won't be as expensive as the old hardware one, but LBO is still after large revenue deals, which it hopes to attain by targeting the top industry players and landing large volume contracts.
LBO now wants the right staff to back the company's new direction and according to Maoz is hiring judiciously and is hiring locally: "Cambridge is the right place for us."
blog comments powered by Disqus