About KGOnTech

Since 2011, the blog KGOnTech (www.kguttag.com) has analyzed consumer display devices and systems. The blog presents the technical analysis and opinions of Karl Guttag with 40 years of electronics industry experience in display devices, headset displays, projector displays, graphics accelerators, and video game devices.

Karl Guttag has 40 years of experience in Graphics and Image Processors, Digital Signal Processing (DSP), memory architecture, display devices (LCOS and DLP) and display systems including Heads Up Displays and Near Eye Display (augmented reality and virtual reality).   For the last 35 years was generally the lead technical person on the design and/or system product rising to TI Fellow at Texas Instruments and being the CTO at three startups.

Most recently he was CTO of Navdy a startup working on automotive heads up displays.   Prior Navdy he was the CTO of Syndiant developing LCOS used in projectors and head mount displays.  He has also provided technical expert support for I.P. litigation since 1999.

He is a named inventor on 150 issued U.S. Patents including key patents related to display devices, graphics/ imaging processors, graphics interface circuits, microprocessors, signal processing (DSP), Synchronous DRAMs, and Video/Graphics DRAM.  Billions of dollars of yearly revenue have been attributed to products using these inventions.


  • Head Mount (Near-Eye) Displays
  • Microdisplay technology (LCOS, DLP, Laser Scanning)
  • Semiconductor Memory Architecture: SRAM, DRAM & VRAM, Video RAM, Graphics RAM, and Smart Memory architectures
  • Head Up Display for Automotive Use
  • Projector technology and applications
  • Graphics processors and graphics accelerators
  • Multimedia Processors and Multimedia Instruction Sets (SIMD Instructions)
  • Digital Signal Processors (DSP)
  • Microprocessor Design, Architecture, Logic, and Instruction Sets

Work Summary

Date:                2018-06 to present

Organization:    RAVN

Title:                 Cheif Science Officer

Summary:          RAVN is working on augmented reality headsets for military and first responder applications


Date:                2012-01 to present

Organization:    KGOnTech, Round Rock TX

Title:                 President

Summary:          KGOnTech provides independent technical and market consulting in the areas of display and graphics devices and systems.  KGOnTech also provides support for intellectual property (IP) litigation including being a technical expert, prior art research, and investigations of infringement.

A list of cases Karl Guttag has worked on since 2002 is included in Appendix A


Date:                2013-05 to 2015-01

Organization:    Navdy Inc, San Francisco CA

Title:                 CTO/CSO

Summary:          Navdy is a startup working on an aftermarket automotive Heads Up Display (HUD).  Navdy was selected as one of 11 of over 100 companies for the PCH International’s Highway1 Incubator.  The company is in the technology development stage of a high volume consumer device.   The company raise $6.5M product in 2014 and has over $3M in presales.


Date:                2004-12 to 2011-12

Organization:  Syndiant, Inc., Richardson, TX

Title:                 Founder and CTO

Summary:          Syndiant developed Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) display devices for pico projector applications and were based on his inventions.  Syndiant has the leadership position in high-resolution LCOS microdisplay for small (pico) projectors.  The devices have been designed into product marketed by 3M, Philips, and AAXA,  among others.  Syndiant’s devices and technology were being considered for integration into cell phones by a number of major companies.

As CTO he was the technical leader of the company.   He guided other senior engineers, help planned the roadmap for new devices, interfaced with engineers at customers and partner companies, and was the technical spokesperson for the company


Dates:               2001-07 to 2010-12

Organization:  Kagutech, Ltd.

Title:                 President

Summary:          For this intellectual property company, Mr. Guttag has invented and has issued Patents on new all-digital architectures for Microdisplay Backplanes.  The technology he invented at Kagutech by Karl Guttag was exclusively licensed to Syndiant.


Dates: 1998-05 to 2001-06

Organization:    Silicon Display Incorporated

Title:     CTO

Summary:          A startup company working on Liquid Crystal on Silicon for near eye and projector applications.  During that time Mr. Guttag was responsible for the architecture of a digital LCOS display device and the FPGA that interfaced to the display device as well as developing LCOS drive algorithms.


Dates:               1977-07 to 1998-05

Organization:    Texas Instruments (TI)

Titles:                TI Fellow (1988-1998), SMTS (1982-1988), Senior Engineer (1979-1982), Engineer (1977-1979)

Summary:          Most of his 20 years at TI was involved with the integrated circuits related to storing and manipulating graphics, imaging, and video data.  He was the lead integrated circuit architect of some of TI’s most advanced integrated circuits.

While at TI, he was the technical leader on a number of imaging and graphics related programs.  Mr. Guttag was the chief architect of the TMS320C8x (MVP) family (1990-1996) of image processors (which have been often cited in patent/legal procedures against Microunity patents) and the TMS340 family (1984-1989) of programmable graphics processors.

He led the definition of the first Video DRAM (VRAM) which today has become the Graphics DRAM or GDRAM.   He also was a significant contributor to the first Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) that is used in the vast majority of computer systems.  He is a named inventor on key early patents related to both the early VRAM and SDRAM.

He led the definition of highly integrated Video Interface Palettes at TI (1984-1989) and other integrated circuits related to graphics systems including a floating point coprocessor for the TMS340 family.

He headed the logic and design architecture of the TMS 9995 (1979) and TMS 99000 (1980-1981) 16-bit microprocessors.  His work on these architectures plus his work on the VRAM, led to him being elected as the youngest Senior Member of Technical Staff (SMTS) in the history of TI in 1982.

In 1977 and 1978, he was one of the 6 original engineers on the TMS9918 “Sprite Chip” family (1977-1979) that was used in Colecovision, the Japanese MSX home computer, and TI’s 99/4 home computer.  This sprite architecture was later cloned and used by Nintendo in their game systems.  He directly worked on the Sprite architecture, DRAM interface definition, and logic verification of the TMS 9918 family (which included the 9918, 9918A, 9928, 9118, and 9128).


Litigation Support

Law Firm: Withheld
Disposition: Active
Date: 2015-05-27 – ongoing
Case Name: Withheld
Provided: Technical consultant, gave Deposition
Disposition Active
Law Firm: Foley & Lardner LLP, Representing Renesas
Disposition: Settled
Date: 2016-07-27 – 2016-08-07
Case Name: Advanced Silicon Technologies, LLC v. Renesas et al.,
Provided: Technical consultant, gave deposition on video
Disposition Settled
Law Firm: Covington & Burling LLP, Representing Texas Instruments Inc.
Disposition: Settled
Date: 2016-03-30 – 2016-07-25
Case Name: Advanced Silicon Technologies, LLC v. Texas Instruments Incorporated et. al.
Provided: Technical consultant
Disposition Settled
Law Firm: O’Melveny & Myers LLP representing the defendant Samsung
Disposition: Case settled
Date: 2011-03 – 2013-06
Case Name: Microunity v. Acer (Settled in 2010), Apple, AT&T, Google, HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Qualcomm Samsung, Sprint and Texas Instruments (TI settled in 2013)
Services Provided: Technical consultant
Disposition: Case settled
Date: 2011-03 – 2013-06
Law Firm: Baker Botts LLP representing the defendant Fusion-IO
Case Name: Solid State Storage Solutions v. STEC, OCZ Technology Group, Texas Memory Systems, Inc., PNY Technologies, Patriot Memory LLC, Fusion-IO, Other World Computing, Inc., and Mushkin, Inc.
Services Provided: Technical consultant
Disposition: Case settled with Fusion-IO
Date: 2013-01 – 2013-02
Law Firm: Covington and Burlington representing the defendant Texas Instruments
Case Name: Microunity v. Acer (Settled in 2010), Apple, AT&T, Google, HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Qualcomm Samsung, Sprint and Texas Instruments
Services Provided: Technical consultant
Disposition: Case settled with TI continuing with other defendants
Date: 2010-09 – 2013-03
Law Firm: Covington and Burlington representing the defendant
Case Name: Graphics Properties Holdings, Inc v Research In Motion, HTC Corporation, LG Electronics, Inc, Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Corporation, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, Motorola Mobility
Services Provided: Technical consultant including writing claim charts for invalidity and providing technical opinions about claim construction, non-infringement, and issues with the cited patents claims lack of enablement and being indefinite.
Disposition: Settled
Date: 2012-05 – 2013-01
Law Firm: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP representing the defendant
Case Name: Intellectual Ventures I LLC, Intellectual Ventures II LLC  v. Hynix Semiconductor Inc., Hynix Semiconductor America Inc., Ellpida Memory, Inc. and Elipida Memory
Services Provided: Technical support in analyzing prior art and infringement claims including writing claim charts and writing documents related to non-infringement.
Disposition: Plaintiff dropped contentions against one of the patents for which Mr. Guttag generated the non-infringement arguments claim charts and soon after the case was settled.
Date: 2012-06 – 2012-09
Law Firm: Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett and Dunner L.L.P. representing the defendant
Case Name: Microunity v. Sony Entertainment
Services Provided: Technical consulting
Disposition: Settled before trial
Date: 2007-09 through 2007-11
Law Firm: Latham & Watkins LLP representing the defendant
Case Name: St MicroElectronics v. Broadcomm
Services Provided: Technical consulting
Disposition: Settled before trial
Date: 2003-05 through 2004-03
Law Firm: Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP representing the plaintiff
Case Name: Rambus v. N/A
Services Provided: Technical consulting
Disposition: Settled before trial
Date: 2002-07 to 2002-10


BSEE from Bradley University in 1976

MSEE from the University of Michigan 1977


He was the youngest person elected to Senior Member of Technical staff after only 4.5 years at TI, and was the youngest person elected to TI Fellow at Texas Instruments, receiving this honor after less than 11 years after joining TI.  He was awarded the “Technical Achievement” award by the NCGA in 1988 for his work on the Video RAM.  At SID 2011 he won a Distinguished Paper Award for his paper on “Laser+LCOS Technology Revolution.”

Karl Guttag has been an invited speaker and has published numerous papers at many graphics, imaging, and integrated circuit conferences.   He has been regularly quoted in most of the major electronics and graphics magazines.


Karl Guttag has been an invited speaker and has published numerous papers at many graphics, imaging, and integrated circuit conferences over the last 36 years.   He has been regularly quoted in most of the major electronics and graphics magazines.  His recent publications include:

SID 2011: Distinguished Paper: Laser+LCOS Technology Revolution

SID Symposium Digest of Technical Papers — June 2011 — Volume 42, Issue 1, pp. 536-539

SID 2010: Invited Paper: High Resolution Microdisplays for Pico Projectors

SID Symposium Digest of Technical Papers — May 2010 — Volume 41, Issue 1, pp. 1057-1060

2nd International Symposium on Liquid Crystals: Science and Technology (LCST2011): Invited Paper: Digital High Resolution, Small Pixel LCOS Technology

IDW 2008 (Japan): 854 × 600 pixel LCOS microdisplay with 5.4 μm pixel pitch for pico-projectors: 195-198

IDW 2005 (Japan): A 1080p Digital LCOS Microdisplay Supporting Greater Than 12-bits per Color

IDW 2004 (Japan): Digital Microdisplay Backplane with Bit Serial SIMD Processing

PICOPROJECTION DISPLAYS: Laser-LCOS microdisplays make for tiny, low-cost picoprojectors, Laserfocusworld, volume-46, issue-1 January 2010

Projection Summit 2011: Projectors: Lasers are the Answer . . . Now what was the question? (presentation)

Projection Summit 2010: Why Resolution Matters (presentation)

Projection Summit 2009: How Can We Ship Over 100 Million Pico Projectors Per Year? (presentation)

Projection Summit 2007: Laser Illuminated Microdisplay Television

Interviews by Pico Projector Info 2009 though 2010:




Syndiant CTO Blog: http://syndiant.com/blog_CTO.html

KGOnTech Blog (current): https://www.kguttag.com

Seeking Alpha Contributing Author http://seekingalpha.com/author/karl-guttag/articles


To date, 150 U.S. patents have been issued with Karl Guttag as an inventor.  A number of the patents have been considered key patents in Texas Instruments’ patent portfolio and have resulted in significant licensing revenue to TI.  Most of these patents relate to digital signal processor architecture, graphics and imaging architectures, new DRAM architectures, and video.

Patent # Title
1. 8890903 Spatial light modulator with storage reducer
2. 8766887 Allocating registers on a spatial light modulator
3. 8605015 Spatial light modulator with masking-comparators
4. 8558856 Allocation registers on a spatial light modulator
5. RE44190 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
6. 8,189,015 Allocating memory on a spatial light modulator
7. 8,120,597 Mapping pixel values
8. 8,089,431 Instructions controlling light modulating elements
9. 8,035,627 Bit serial control of light modulating elements
10. 8,004,505 Variable storage of bits on a backplane
11. 7,924,274 Masked write on an array of drive bits
12. 7,667,678 Recursive feedback control of light modulating elements
13. 7,389,317 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
14. 7,071,908 Digital backplane
15. 7,039,795 System and method for using a two-stage multiplexing architecture for performing combinations of passing, rearranging, and duplicating operations on data
16. 6,948,050 Single integrated circuit embodying a dual heterogenous processors with separate instruction handling hardware
17. 6,829,696 Data processing system with register store/load utilizing data packing/unpacking
18. 6,803,885 Method and system for displaying information using a transportable display chip
19. 6,754,809 Data processing apparatus with indirect register file access
20. 6,711,602 Data processor with flexible multiply unit
21. 6,370,558 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
22. 6,314,047 Low cost alternative to large dual port RAM
23. 6,260,088 Single integrated circuit embodying a risc processor and a digital signal processor
24. 6,240,437 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
25. 6,232,955 Palette devices, systems and methods for true color mode
26. 6,219,695 Circuits, systems, and methods for communicating computer video output to a remote location
27. 6,219,688 Method, apparatus and system for sum of plural absolute differences
28. 6,219,627 Architecture of a chip having multiple processors and multiple memories
29. 6,173,394 Instruction having bit field designating status bits protected from modification corresponding to arithmetic logic unit result
30. 6,116,768 Three input arithmetic logic unit with barrel rotator
31. 6,098,163 Three input arithmetic logic unit with shifter
32. 6,088,280 High-speed memory arranged for operating synchronously with a microprocessor
33. 6,070,003 System and method of memory access in apparatus having plural processors and plural memories
34. 6,058,473 Memory store from a register pair conditional upon a selected status bit
35. 6,032,170 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
36. 6,016,538 Method, apparatus and system forming the sum of data in plural equal sections of a single data word
37. 5,995,748 Three input arithmetic logic unit with shifter and/or mask generator
38. 5,995,747 Three input arithmetic logic unit capable of performing all possible three operand boolean operations with shifter and/or mask generator
39. 5,982,694 High speed memory arranged for operating synchronously with a microprocessor
40. 5,974,539 Three input arithmetic logic unit with shifter and mask generator
41. 5,961,635 Three input arithmetic logic unit with barrel rotator and mask generator
42. 5,960,193 Apparatus and system for sum of plural absolute differences
43. 5,956,744 Memory configuration cache with multilevel hierarchy least recently used cache entry replacement
44. 5,923,340 Process of processing graphics data
45. 5,912,854 Data processing system arranged for operating synchronously with a high speed memory
46. 5,808,958 Random access memory with latency arranged for operating synchronously with a micro processor and a system including a data processor, a synchronous DRAM, a peripheral device, and a system clock
47. 5,805,913 Arithmetic logic unit with conditional register source selection
48. 5,768,609 Reduced area of crossbar and method of operation
49. 5,761,726 Base address generation in a multi-processing system having plural memories with a unified address space corresponding to each processor
50. 5,742,538 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
51. 5,734,880 Hardware branching employing loop control registers loaded according to status of sections of an arithmetic logic unit divided into a plurality of sections
52. 5,727,225 Method, apparatus and system forming the sum of data in plural equal sections of a single data word
53. 5,724,599 Message passing and blast interrupt from processor
54. 5,712,999 Address generator employing selective merge of two independent addresses
55. 5,701,507 Architecture of a chip having multiple processors and multiple memories
56. 5,696,959 Memory store from a selected one of a register pair conditional upon the state of a selected status bit
57. 5,696,954 Three input arithmetic logic unit with shifting means at one input forming a sum/difference of two inputs logically ored with a third input logically ored with the sum/difference logically anded with an inverse of the third input
58. 5,696,913 Unique processor identifier in a multi-processing system having plural memories with a unified address space corresponding to each processor
59. 5,694,348 Method apparatus and system for correlation
60. 5,673,407 Data processor having capability to perform both floating point operations and memory access in response to a single instruction
61. 5,651,127 Guided transfers with variable stepping
62. 5,644,524 Iterative division apparatus, system and method employing left most one’s detection and left most one’s detection with exclusive or
63. 5,640,578 Arithmetic logic unit having plural independent sections and register storing resultant indicator bit from every section
64. 5,634,065 Three input arithmetic logic unit with controllable shifter and mask generator
65. 5,613,146 Reconfigurable SIMD/MIMD processor using switch matrix to allow access to a parameter memory by any of the plurality of processors
66. 5,606,520 Address generator with controllable modulo power of two addressing capability
67. 5,600,847 Three input arithmetic logic unit with mask generator
68. 5,596,767 Programmable data processing system and apparatus for executing both general purpose instructions and special purpose graphic instructions
69. 5,596,763 Three input arithmetic logic unit forming mixed arithmetic and boolean combinations
70. 5,596,519 Iterative division apparatus, system and method employing left most one’s detection and left most one’s detection with exclusive OR
71. 5,592,405 Multiple operations employing divided arithmetic logic unit and multiple flags register
72. 5,590,350 Three input arithmetic logic unit with mask generator
73. 5,587,954 Random access memory arranged for operating synchronously with a microprocessor and a system including a data processor, a synchronous DRAM, a peripheral device, and a system clock
74. 5,560,030 Transfer processor with transparency
75. 5,537,563 Devices, systems and methods for accessing data using a gun preferred data organization
76. 5,524,265 Architecture of transfer processor
77. 5,522,083 Reconfigurable multi-processor operating in SIMD mode with one processor fetching instructions for use by remaining processors
78. 5,522,082 Graphics display processor, a graphics display system and a method of processing graphics data with control signals connected to a central processing unit and graphics circuits
79. 5,517,609 Graphics display system using tiles of data
80. 5,512,896 Huffman encoding method, circuit and system employing most significant bit change for size detection
81. 5,509,129 Long instruction word controlling plural independent processor operations
82. 5,493,646 Pixel block transfer with transparency
83. 5,493,524 Three input arithmetic logic unit employing carry propagate logic
84. 5,487,146 Plural memory access address generation employing guide table entries forming linked list
85. 5,485,411 Three input arithmetic logic unit forming the sum of a first input anded with a first boolean combination of a second input and a third input plus a second boolean combination of the second and third inputs
86. 5,479,166 Huffman decoding method, circuit and system employing conditional subtraction for conversion of negative numbers
87. 5,471,592 Multi-processor with crossbar link of processors and memories and method of operation
88. 5,465,224 Three input arithmetic logic unit forming the sum of a first Boolean combination of first, second and third inputs plus a second Boolean combination of first, second and third inputs
89. 5,437,011 Graphics computer system, a graphics system arrangement, a display system, a graphics processor and a method of processing graphic data
90. 5,434,969 Video display system using memory with a register arranged to present an entire pixel at once to the display
91. 5,420,809 Method of operating a data processing apparatus to compute correlation
92. RE34,881 Graphics data processing apparatus having image operations with transparent color having selectable number of bits
93. 5,398,316 Devices, systems and methods for accessing data using a pixel preferred data organization
94. 5,390,149 System including a data processor, a synchronous dram, a peripheral device, and a system clock
95. 5,375,198 Process for performing a windowing operation in an array move, a graphics computer system, a display system, a graphic processor and a graphics display system
96. 5,371,896 Multi-processor having control over synchronization of processors in mind mode and method of operation
97. 5,371,517 Video interface palette, systems and method
98. 5,333,261 Graphics processing apparatus having instruction which operates separately on X and Y coordinates of pixel location registers
99. 5,327,159 Packed bus selection of multiple pixel depths in palette devices, systems and methods
100. 5,317,333 Graphics data processing apparatus with draw and advance operation
101. 5,309,551 Devices, systems and methods for palette pass-through mode
102. 5,294,918 Graphics processing apparatus having color expand operation for drawing color graphics from monochrome data
103. 5,293,468 Controlled delay devices, systems and methods
104. 5,287,100 Graphics systems, palettes and methods with combined video and shift clock control
105. 5,283,863 Process for effecting an array move instruction, a graphics computer system, a display system, a graphics processor and graphics display system
106. 5,270,973 Video random access memory having a split register and a multiplexer
107. 5,269,001 Video graphics display memory swizzle logic circuit and method
108. 5,249,266 Data processing apparatus with self-emulation capability
109. 5,239,654 Dual mode SIMD/MIMD processor providing reuse of MIMD instruction memories as data memories when operating in SIMD mode
110. 5,231,694 Graphics data processing apparatus having non-linear saturating operations on multibit color data
111. 5,226,125 Switch matrix having integrated crosspoint logic and method of operation
112. 5,212,777 Multi-processor reconfigurable in single instruction multiple data (SIMD) and multiple instruction multiple data (MIMD) modes and method of operation
113. 5,185,859 Graphics processor, a graphics computer system, and a process of masking selected bits
114. 5,163,024 Video display system using memory with parallel and serial access employing serial shift registers selected by column address
115. 5,162,784 Graphics data processing apparatus with draw and advance operation
116. 5,142,621 Graphics processing apparatus having instruction which operates separately on X and Y coordinates of pixel location registers
117. 5,140,687 Data processing apparatus with self-emulation capability
118. 5,095,301 Graphics processing apparatus having color expand operation for drawing color graphics from monochrome data
119. 5,077,678 Graphics data processor with window checking for determining whether a point is within a window
120. 5,056,041 Data processing apparatus with improved bit masking capability
121. 4,933,878 Graphics data processing apparatus having non-linear saturating operations on multibit color data
122. 4,825,390 Color palette having repeat color data
123. 4,799,053 Color palette having multiplexed color look up table loading
124. 4,752,893 Graphics data processing apparatus having image operations with transparent color having a selectable number of bits
125. 4,747,081 Video display system using memory with parallel and serial access employing serial shift registers selected by column address
126. 4,720,819 Method and apparatus for clearing the memory of a video computer
127. 4,718,024 Graphics data processing apparatus for graphic image operations upon data of independently selectable pitch
128. 4,694,391 Compressed control decoder for microprocessor system
129. 4,688,197 Control of data access to memory for improved video system
130. 4,663,735 Random/serial access mode selection circuit for a video memory system
131. 4,660,156 Video system with single memory space for instruction, program data and display data
132. 4,656,596 Video memory controller
133. 4,648,077 Video serial accessed memory with midline load
134. 4,639,890 Video display system using memory with parallel and serial access employing selectable cascaded serial shift registers
135. 4,603,381 Use of implant process for programming ROM type processor for encryption
136. 4,590,552 Security bit for designating the security status of information stored in a nonvolatile memory
137. 4,566,075 Table lookup multiplier employing compressed data read only memory
138. 4,544,851 Synchronizer circuit with dual input
139. 4,532,587 Single chip processor connected to an external memory chip
140. 4,521,853 Secure microprocessor/microcomputer with secured memory
141. 4,521,852 Data processing device formed on a single semiconductor substrate having secure memory
142. 4,469,964 Synchronizer circuit
143. 4,450,519 Psuedo-microprogramming in microprocessor in single-chip microprocessor with alternate IR loading from internal or external program memories
144. 4,434,462 Off-chip access for psuedo-microprogramming in microprocessor
145. 4,422,143 Microprocessor ALU with absolute value function
146. 4,403,284 Microprocessor which detects leading 1 bit of instruction to obtain microcode entry point address
147. 4,402,044 Microprocessor with strip layout of busses, ALU and registers
148. 4,402,043 Microprocessor with compressed control ROM
149. 4,402,042 Microprocessor system with instruction pre-fetch
150. 4,243,984 Video display processor (original “Sprite-Chip” patent)


  1. Hi Karl; Just a note to say hello. We worked on simmilar aspects of video and I particularly remember a session in Nice checking their design proposals on AVP (Advanved Video Processor). I has moved on and I hope you are still at it as I am. Take care Karl, and I remember the old times. Raj

  2. Karl,
    My colleagues and I have done a study comparing picoprojector technologies in which we used your resolution plots (downloaded from this site). Would you like an acknowledgement of their use?


  3. Dear Karl,

    We make those special screen, I am looking for Pico Projector or any good laser projector. But I like to put this projector very very close the our screen or just above the screen like the LBO did. Do you think it is possible? I have huge application for it. Is any telephone # you can be reached? if I may. My mobile is +86 1391 666 8076
    You can just send a MSG to me , let me call you since it is international long distance.

    Thank you very much for your help


    • Michael, I don’t think it is appropriate for me to get into this matter in any specifics with respect to Syndiant.

      I will say that the market for pico projectors never really materialized in a big way. Yes there were some attempts and specialty products, but not even volume to sustain device company. The same could be said for Head Mounted Displays. There just are not any high volume device sales to be made. Yes there are specialty products but nothing, including Google Glass, when into the kind of volumes that would sustain and grow display device development. Without volume growth, it is hard to sustain technology and manufacturing development.

      Another big issue is that the LCOS manufacturing effort has been very fracture between many companies whereas DLP had a huge investment by a single company, Texas Instruments (reportedly over $1B invested before they sold a device for more than it cost to make). Himax had their other division support the investment in manufacturing (I have heard it was well more than $100M US) that a startup like Syndiant could not afford (at least when I was there).

    • In short, it looks to be insane how much money has been poured into Magic Leap (over $1B USD). They are working on light field displays which at a minimum require about 10 to 20X information content (not really pixels but the information that would be optically turned into pixels) to be delivered to the eye simultaneously (the focus point of the eye then “chooses” the content that is in focus).

      It may “work” for some simple low resolution demos, but how they hope to deliver a product at a cost that is not crazy and that will be worth what it cost would seem to be well more than 10 years away (like delivering a 20K by 20K resolution display complete with all the processing and data bandwidth). It seems like something more appropriate for a few $1M per year research effort, not a full blown company.

  4. Will you be attending SVVR or VRLA this year? If so, would you be willing to talk to Kent Bye from the Voices of VR podcast? I would love to hear your conversation.

      • I think Kent only does face to face interviews. Do you attend any other conferences or will you be on West coast for other reasons?

    • I assume you are talking about dimming/blocking the outside/real world so that it is not too bright.

      This is certainly something many companies would like to do with their AR systems. To get the display to show up, they can only go so bright before it hurts the person’s eye. There are also companies that want to have pixel or area dimming to selectively light to make the display image opaque/solid.

      I have not heard of anyway to do true pixel level dimming as there are issues of parallax (getting the display image to line up with the dimming) and with focus. The “dimming plane” is too close to the eye to be in-focus whereas the display image has optics that moved it’s apparent focus point.

      Like many things, dimming the outside world, is one of the things that companies would like to do but there are literally dozens of issues to be solved. Each has to deal with the size, weight, cost, power, and negative image effects (everything you add damages the image a bit) that go with adding a feature.

    • LCOS is made on silicon semiconductor crystalline substrates and not with Thin Film Transistors (TFT). I don’t know all the I.C. fabs that support LCOS. I know TSMC supports some companies but there are others. LCOS is make with largely common semiconductor process but the top layer/mirror is very special and they use special techniques to create a smooth mirror and reduce the “dimple” due to the electrical contact.

  5. Hi Karl- I was wondering about your opinion of the http://maxst.com/revelio/ ? It uses an LCOS RVista50 display and has a wide FOV and is also cheap ($850)…what are the big downsides for this design (it seems to solve the cost issue for a binocular AR display but wonder about the drawbacks of its display tech and whether they are negligible)

    • From what I can tell, the R-Vista 50 uses a polarized light “birdbath design” that seems pretty efficient. They seem to be only blocking about 50% of the incoming light which suggest they are using polarization rotation films to make the design efficient both in terms of reflecting the display light AND in terms of transmission; at least this part seems to have been done well. 50% is still like wearing light to medium sunglasses but it is much better than non-polarizing birdbath designs.

      Because the R-Vista 50 design only covers about 40 degrees of your FOV and the optical “block” cover about 60 degrees of a person’s FOV, you will notice a blurry edge of the optics block. I can say the Maxst Revelio video has 100% fake and not-representative “simulated” views; I could not find any “through the optics” images anywhere on it or the R-Vista 50. Because they are likely using polarizing optics, you will have problems looking at any LCD monitor or display. It would be dangerous to use a headset like this while driving (as shown in the Maxst Revelio video).

      They don’t give spec’s for the brightness or contrast of the headset and this is a BIG concern for me. Usually when companies don’t give specs it is because they aren’t good. My guess is that these will not be bright enough for outdoor use but might work indoors.

      I don’t have a lot of familiarity with the RaonTech LCOS panel. There are big trade-offs in image quality versus cost that can be made in LCOS. Generally contrast is lower with field sequential color LCOS has you have to use faster but lower contrast Liquid Crystals and also “tune” for one color wavelength (typically green) which means you lose contrast in the other two colors.

      I unfortunately did not see the product at CES (apparently it was demonstrated there) and there is not a lot of detail in the available information. There is the general “consumer warning” that if it was a great product, you would hear about it by word of mouth. I would certainly want to try it out before buying one for $850.

      • Thanks Karl- Looking at the spec sheet it seems that it has a distortion of 3% and transmittance of 40% that does not seem bad at all in terms of real-world usage (whether outside or inside a building)

      • I can believe the 40% transmittance, basically the loss due to polarizing the real world image. It agrees with my rough calculations based on the pictures. 40% is at the lighter side of “medium/category 2” sunglasses. Typical Polarizing sunglasses are category 3 and in the 10% to 20% transmission range. For indoor use you would like more in the 85% transmission range (do you wear sunglasses indoor?).

        Do you know how many nits (cd/m-squared) the glasses put out?

        In the end you really need to try them on and see how well they work for you. Do you see the field sequential color breakup? Try out the software as well. ALL the AR glasses these days make severe compromises in one way or another, you have to decide if you can live with them.

  6. sir, you webpage is really amazing and informative. But i have one doubt in one of your page on head mounted display, every prototype that you’ve wrote about forms image near eyes(that is what near eye display do) but to see an image near eye we need a convex lens and no lens is used in any of the prototype. so please explain me how that image is recognized and interpreted by eye.

    • It looks a lot like Lumus’s waveguide technology with multiple semi-mirrors. Lumus is from Israel, and Theia started in Israel and I think was acquired by a Chinese company.

      What I don’t know is whether Theia is using Lumus or they are trying to clone Lumus’s technology. Lumus just makes the waveguide and they sell to various companies that make headsets.

  7. Karl
    What is your take on Vuzix partnering with QCOM’s XR1 chip and also the Plessey MicroLED displays for their NextGen AR smartglass to come in 2019-2020?

  8. Hello Karl!
    I have been *fully immersed* in you blog over the last days – very fascinating and insightful. Thank you!
    I am based in Vienna, Austria and I follow the XR world here quite closely – it’s quite a flourishing scene.
    For example, there is a company called TriLite Technologies who developed a supposedly ground braking pico laser projector (they call it the “Trixel”). I wonder why I didn’t find anything about it on your blog. Have you heard about the company and the technology? What do you think about it?
    Kind regards,

    • Thanks, I had not seen TriLite/Trixel before. Just looking at their website, they make some bold claims that I am a bit dubious about. It seems (I don’t have time right this minute to research what they are doing) their technology is on somehow combining 3 (RGB) laser beams in “software” rather than with optics. Assuming it works, you are still left with the drawbacks of Laser Beam Scanning (LBS).

    • Thanks for the link to the article. The article itself was pretty much a nothing burger in terms of saying that Apple might have something in 2022 or later. The part about “layers” could be just about anything from a single to multiple waveguides or some other kind of optics.

      While there are multiple big-name companies pumping a lot of money into AR, the problem is extremely difficult and pushing, if not in some cases breaking the laws, of physics for what people want. It is one thing to make an “enterprise system” that will have poor image quality but do a job at a high price. But the consumer market wants great image quality at a low cost and nobody for any amount of money knows how to do that in a “glasses-like” form factor.

  9. Hello Karl, I’m a novice interested in the field of optics from the perspective of building AR head-mounted displays? What advice would you give me for how to get started?

    Really love your work and inspired by it, Thanks.

    • My key advice is to understand the problem you are trying to solve and whether the technology exists or soon will exist to solve it. So far, most AR headsets go in with high ambitions to solve everything and end up solving very little.

      • Thank you for the response. What are some of the reading resources you can recommend on current head-mounted display technology for beginners such as myself? How do you think I can get started with getting my hands dirty and experimenting? Do you think I would be able to find the parts online?

        Again, thank you very much.

  10. Hi Karl, I found your blog recently and it has been an invaluable resource. Thank you so much for all the effort.

    I just got started trying to develop smart glasses for the specific use case of displaying real-life conversation subtitles for deaf/hard of hearing users. My wife identifies as deaf and we have been talking about this type of product for years, but now i finally got down to it!

    I am very confused about what type of display technology to use, diffractive or geometric waveguides or something else? I was hoping i could get your advice. Here’s some functional requirements in case that helps:

    – low (<25 degree) FOV should be fine, as users generally look at the speaker in the conversation (lip reading habits)
    – should be in the smart glass form factor, low weight (<50 g) for all day use
    – All day battery life, shouldnt heat up on the sides
    – most of the compute will be in the phone (speech to text) and communication between phone and glasses will be BLE
    – needs to be available with prescription glasses, since there is a high correlation between vision and auditory problems (this is confusing for me, im wondering if the prescription needs to be integrated in the display tech, or can inserts be made to seem "natural" in the smart glass form factor)

    again, i would really appreciate any insights on inputs you may be able to provide. Thank you!

    • Based on your requirements, I would NOT consider any type of thin waveguide, they are simply too inefficient in terms of light throughput.

      I would think a Micro-OLED display (Sony, eMagin, MicroOLED, Kopin, BOE, and others) would be the best display technology to used. MicroLEDs (inorganic LEDs) are not ready for volume products unless you want green-only, but MicroLED may become an option in a few years.

      As far as optics, you want something that is not going to require pupil expansion. One to consider would be Tooz which can be made into prescription glasses, but going with Tooz might require a major investment on your part as it is such an integrated solution. Another option would be to make the display be outside the glasses such as some of Vuzix’s (https://www.vuzix.com/products/m-series) or RealWear devices (https://realwear.com/knowledge-center/hmt-1/). While not as elegant, going with an external display gives a better image and can be folded away when not in use.

      Hopefully, this helps.

  11. Hello Karl,

    I have just found your blog and am absolutely blown away. So far I have only read two of your posts you have made regarding the hardware of the Hololens 2 but I feel that I have struck gold in the sense that there is an enormous amount of technical information to read on this site that pertains to my field of interest.

    I finished by BS in Physics in 2019 and during a break year made the decision that I want to jump into the AR/VR/MR industry as an optical engineer/physicist. I am in the second quarter of MS in physics specializing in optics now. A driving goal of mine is to help develop AR hardware that can be used in the classroom to supplement courseware specifically in STEM, but all around as well.

    Having had little to no experience in optics during my BS I am scrambling to absorb as much knowledge as possible while trying to find a suitable sub field to specialize in that will enable me to get my foot in the door of companies developing tech for AR.

    As of right now I am contemplating diving into areas such as freeform optics, holographic optical elements, lasers (I know that’s general but I haven’t taken my laser physics course yet and don’t have much knowledge of subfields within laser tech), machine learning applied to AR, waveguides, and photonics.

    Do you have any advice for an aspiring optical engineer/physicist that is still trying to find an area to specialize in? Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. I can’t thank you enough just for hosting this site with such a plethora of technical information and analysis. I am sure that I will learn loads just from reading your posts.

    Thank you for taking the time to read.

    • Thanks for your kind comments. Also, understand that my degree is in electrical engineer (BSEE and MSEE). I was an I.C. architect defining and designing CPUs, Graphics Processors, and graphics memories for the first 20 years of my career.

      I got into photonics after becoming the CTO of a startup working in LCOS. I was architecting/designing the backplane silicon and the FPGA controller. One thing led to another and 4 startups later in the field of displays, I picked up some optic along the way. I think the reason this blog is so popular (It gets 20,000 unique viewers on a good month including many high-level people in the industry) is that I don’t talk perfect “optics-eze.” I try to boil things down to more basic concepts. I like to say that I write for someone that is technically minded but does not understand optics. Though about 2 decades of working in displays, projectors, and AR I have picked up a lot and because of the blog, I have access to much of what is going on in the industry.

      So that said, I’m not the perfect person to advise you on a career path in optics.

      AR is EXTREMELY hard to do well which is why nobody has done it well. The wavelengths of light that a human can see are fixed and when you make tiny displays and optics to go in a small AR headset you are bumping up against serious physics issues from etendue to diffraction. The gap between what can be done and what people are expecting based on the hype and what they see in movies (done in post-production) is enormous. I lived the early days of computer graphics, home computers, and PCs in the late 1970s through the mid-1990s and the physics issues were a piece of cake compared to AR.

      You should understand that there are many smart people in the field of optics. Based on what I have seen, I don’t think AR is going to be “the next cell phone” in the next 10 years. There are too many major problems to solve to make a high volume consumer AR headset. There are some real AR markets that exist and will continue to grow in the fields of industrial applications, medical, and military. These applications tend to share the characteristic that there is either money (worker’s time) or someone’s life (medical and military) on the line to justify the high cost, you don’t care what you look like when wearing the device (function is more important that form), the image quality does not have to be very good (simple mostly transparent graphics), there is a high value in being hands-free, and there is very little input requirement (input with hands-free AR is slow). Then there is “SLAM” (locking to the real world) segment and data snacking segment.

      If it were me (big if), I would be more focused on the input/camera/SLAM related part of the problem. Camera sensors are cheap with great capability. I think things related to vision (optical input) are more likely to grow faster. Note, this is just the way I see it with all the caveats above so treat it as just one person’s opinion.

  12. Hey Karl!

    First of all, I am delighted to have found your blog. I am deeply fascinated by the mechanics of how these new smart glasses work, but there is little knowledge clearly, concisely, and readily available for someone who is not from this area of expertise.

    That being said, I wanted to know your opinion as an expert about which technology do you think will be the basis for successful AR glasses? Do you think it’ll be produced by a startup or one of the tech giants?

    • There is not a simple answer to your question.

      In terms of a high volume and broad-based consumer product in a glasses form factor, I think it is at best a long way out (as in more than 5 years). The “physics” of making a display that is small enough and good enough for consumers is extremely difficult. It is an extremely difficult problem which is why no one has a product that has been close to successful.

      As it stands, if it can happen, it is going to take a big company many years with huge investments. There are still breakthroughs on multiple fronts required. Note that Facebook reportedly spends billions of dollars a year with 10,000+ people (with many the smartest people in the industry), and they don’t have an answer yet. Apple too seems to keep delaying when they will introduce AR. None of them want to be “the next Google Glass.”

      If we were talking about more targeted solutions, then it depends on the application. There are definitely uses for AR in industrial/enterprise medical, and military applications. The best technology depends on the FOV, brightness (particularly for outdoor use), transparency, size, and weight plus dozens of other criteria. But here we are talking more helmet/goggles rather than consumer AR glasses.

  13. Hi Karl Guttag, You have a wonderful blog and very insightful understanding of the Hololens. I am a surgeon in London, UK undertaking research with the Hololens2 at UCL. I have come across 2 properties of the Hololens which we cannot explain. I would really appreciate your perspective. If this is possible, please email me.

  14. Hi Karl! Many thanks for your contributions to computer video displays & youtube interviews. I have used both the TMS9918A & TMS34010 in the 1980’s. Would you be so kind to explain how the NTSC colour is generated on the TMS9918A? I ask because my NTSC compatible LCD monitor shows all colours besides black and white with unwanted “jail bars”. According to my DSO the luminance component dips a tad (intra-pixel) to create horizontal dashed lines rather than a solid ones.

    • Thanks,

      The NTSC video signal generation was a bit of a hack. It is explained in Joe Sexton’s patent on the TMS9918 video generation. https://www.freepatentsonline.com/4262302.pdf. Joe did the design, but the “specs” for the video signal was generated by the Home Computer Group at TI.

      The 9918 was my first design at TI, and I mostly worked on the “digital” side of generating the image (Sprites and Background). I later learned about NTSC and what we did wrong on the 9918. The 9918 generates a non-interlaced image (it hits the same lines twice with one line gap). It does not change the color burst phase by 180 degrees which causes color fringes that are not canceled but reinforced for pixel size details. So the signal is not strictly NTSC but worked with most TVs. On a “normal” TV the pixels to the left and right will be cut off by typical CRT TV overscanning (which is why the Home Computer had a “monitor” which was a slightly modified TV). Colecovision used the 9928, which generated the NTSC externally off Y Cr Cb values. The European produces use the 9929 with slightly different timing and Y Cr Cb output.

      Hopefully, this helps. Let me konw.

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