Say goodbye to the notch? OTI raises $55 million for technology to remove screen obstructions • TechCrunch

OTI Lumionics, an eye-catching Canadian startup that worked on display materials for device manufacturers to create uninterrupted, full-view displays on their devices without the need for “notches” or cutouts to fit camera technology account – and whose name has been associated with Apple as a key supplier of a future notchless iPhone – has raised $55 million in funding.

The money will be used both to bring its technology into production with a number of partners and to develop a secondary line of operations that grew out of the first: OTI credits the breakthrough it had with its own work on display materials to a “quantum computing and AI-based platform” that she built herself, and so the plan will be to produce it as well to help other technologists and engineers solve their own thorny puzzles in materials science.

The funding comes from a mix of strategic and financial backers who also talk about its current business funnel: it includes LG Technology Ventures, Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, UDC Ventures (the venture capital arm of United Display Corporation), Anzu Partners and Lee Lau’s Office family – LG, Samsung and UDC are some of the biggest names in display technology. Areas where display materials are likely to emerge in the coming years include smartphones, tablets, laptops, AR and VR headset makers, televisions, and potentially automotive applications.

OLED displays have been a game-changer for connected devices, both literally and figuratively, with brighter, more contrasting colors and improved responsiveness that enhance the experience in visually intensive experiences like gaming and more. .

But one of the shortcomings of their structure is that when used, usually in full-screen scenarios, manufacturers had to create “notches” or other dark spaces to share that space with cameras and other technologies needed for features such as facial recognition. , a challenge that becomes even more complicated when considering how and where new technologies, such as transparent screens, could be used in the future (automotive windshields, for example, are an area where obstructing space visualization would not work at all). It also means there have been limitations in introducing features like Touch ID to slick displays.

OTI’s breakthrough is something it calls CPM Patterning, a new material and approach that allows CRT display technology to be essentially tied to sensor technology in a seamless design, so the The screen is essentially one with the functionality of cameras or other sensors, which he says also produce a more efficient process that uses less power. Michael Helander, CEO and President of OTI (pictured above), said the process of creating the hardware was something OTI couldn’t have done without building and using its own quantum computing-based algorithms – the platform that it is looking to produce alongside that specific material. Helander said the platform works using “classic hardware” with some calculations from third-party quantum companies like D-Wave.

Beyond design, the company has already gone through the process of testing and qualifying the production method by manufacturers, which means that a usually time-consuming step to bring something new to market has already been crossed, and that OTI’s technology is “production-ready. And if the name OTI rings a bell, you might recall that it was named a key Samsung partner in a report earlier this year, later picked up by others, who alleged that the two were working on building displays using the technology for a future generation of Apple’s iPhone.

It’s a long game. In an interview, Helander wouldn’t comment on customers or where we might see OTI’s technology in action first, he said it was unlikely to find its way into consumer hands for a few years. Again.

He added that while hardware companies are notorious for building and acquiring IP technology all the time, there’s a great opportunity here for more nimble startups that focus on and solve very specific problems.

A company like Samsung, he pointed out, has made some acquisitions of materials science startups, but “the challenge is that because of the time and labor involved, if a device maker buys from a maker [but not another], or changes its strategy, the entire supply chain could change. It’s a lot of investment and it’s a risk, so you see a lot of cases where display competitors will co-invest to support small businesses, and even collaborate,” like LG, Samsung, and UDC do here with OTI. “Even though they would like to have full exclusivity, supporting them together can be beneficial for everyone.”

Robert McIntyre, managing director of LG Technology Ventures, said the display hardware alone sealed the deal to invest in OTI, with the platform opening the door for more possible collaborations in the future.

“OTI has at its heart a materials discovery engine that we believe is particularly powerful, using AI and quantum computing to run simulations to arrive at material endpoints that have not been discovered before.” , did he declare. “What’s unique about the company is that it realizes the importance of bringing apps to market.”