Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kevin Stone talks about Austin Photonics

Kevin Stone talks about Austin Photonics

Where are you from originally?

I born and grew up in Dallas, Texas, but I have lived in Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Moscow and Phoenix, to name a few places.

What university did you go to?

Texas A&M - Physics

What is the idea behind your startup?

Our idea is to provide solutions to ages old problems in lighting and related technologies by shattering longstanding paradigms, including providing high end optical filters on lightweight, flexible and unbreakable polymer films rather than grossly fragile and expensive glass; providing color filtration technologies that limit off-axis chromatic shift and provide an unparalleled range of hue and saturation; creating permanent theatrical color filters that replace expendable theatrical gel and eliminate the high labor costs associated with ongoing replacement while retaining light weight and ease of use; coating polymer optics without the high costs associated with expensive cleanup from outgassing and without undesirable deformation and coating damage due to thermal instability; providing small and lightweight variable color correction for television and cinema lighting; and pioneering new energy efficient technologies such as our laser-phosphor luminaire currently in development.

What need does it fulfill?

Our patents and processes replace heavy, fragile and expensive glass filters requiring large amounts of storage and complex actuating mechanisms with near-weightless, unbreakable and heat resistant flexible polymer filters that require vastly smaller motors for mechanical devices and micro-machines and significantly less storage space. They also increase the utility and viability of many older energy efficient light sources, expanding the useful lives of these technologies. Our laser-phosphor light engine will replace costly light sources such as HMI and xenon lamps whose rated life ranges from a few hundred to a thousand or so hours with an energy efficient 10,000 to 20,000 hour source that solves the problems of collimation and color accuracy that prevent LEDs from penetrating these markets.

What exactly does it do?

Our dichroic polymer filters replace color gel by providing a color-accurate reject-or-pass filter that, due to the lack of absorption of filtered light, does not degrade and burn through like expendable gel filters, while avoiding the shortcomings of heavy, fragile and expensive glass dichroic filters. Our coating technology also allows the coating of other polymer substrates without the costly and time-consuming cleanup due to outgassing that is typical of other vacuum deposition processes. End-use technologies provide highly precise color mixing and unmatched color and saturation range. Lastly, our laser-phosphor technology replaces LEDs with lasers and novel phosphor geometry to produce full-spectrum white light unattainable by LEDs while overcoming the inherent inefficiencies of optical systems designed around LEDs and their planar emitting surface, allowing precise and optically efficient beam shaping in collimating and imaging systems.

Who is it for?

The market for dichroic polymer filters and their end-use technologies is broad, ranging from medical and scientific applications to optical micro-machines to entertainment and architectural lighting to military imaging systems. Our polymer coating processes are applicable to any industry desiring cost-effective and highly accurate coating of polymers and polymer optics. Our laser-phosphor light engine targets any application that requires the energy efficiency and durable long life of LEDs coupled with superior full-spectrum color rendering and highly efficient and precise optics and beam-shaping.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?

Hands down, the most challenging aspect of starting up is attracting investment, given that most investors have little to no experience in the lighting and optics industries. The challenge is in educating them as to the extraordinary capabilities these technologies impart to existing lighting systems in a simple and cost-effective manner and the vast market potential that these game-changing technologies possess.

What is the next step for you and your business?

Aside from tying up a few intellectual property loose ends, the next step, immediately upon acquiring investment, is to purchase equipment and start manufacturing. A number of markets have already been identified and key players aware of our technology. Moving forward is as easy as fabricating material and taking customers’ orders.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Don’t underestimate how difficult it may be to attract investment if yours is a product that is specific to an industry suffering from lack of general public awareness. In our case, for example, people take light-producing technologies for granted and have little idea of what does or does not constitute viable innovation.

What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

It is probably trite to cite the internet as the most helpful resource, but it’s a great educational tool for making potential customers and investors alike aware of the value of your product.