Osram Acquires VCSEL specialist Vixar and Grow Light Company Fluence Bioengineering

Osram Licht AG of Munich, Germany, reported that it has acquired VCSEL specialist Vixar. The company also announced that it has purchased smart LED grow light maker Fluence Bioengineering of Austin, Texas.

VCSEL stands for vertical cavity surface emitting laser, a laser diode in which the light emission is perpendicular to the surface of the semiconductor chip.

Osram says the acquisition of the small-company, Vixar adds to its expertise in VCSEL technology used for optical identification and in security applications such as 3D facial recognition.

Osram also says that the acquisition will add to its technological capabilities and expertise, which already include the production of infrared LEDs and infrared laser diodes, and the company holds substantial intellectual property related to infrared LEDs and infrared laser diodes. The company plans to expand its product portfolio after with the addition of Vixar’s VCSEL capabilities.

VCSELs Used for Identification, Gesture Recognition, and Distance Measurement

Osram points out, that while VCSELs are currently known primarily for identification applications in mobile devices they can also be used for gesture recognition and distance measurement in medical, industrial, and automotive applications can also use VCSEL technology.

Vixar, with about 20 employees is based in Plymouth, Minnesota. Osram points out that Vixar is profitable both operationally and on a net results level. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. The closing of the transaction is expected in summer of 2018.

“The acquisition of Vixar is adding to our expertise, particularly in the fast-growing market for security technologies,” said Olaf Berlien, CEO of Osram Licht AG. “Osram is a technology leader in infrared optical semiconductors and has already succeeded in bringing to market light sources for fingerprint sensors, iris scanners, and 2D facial recognition. The acquired capabilities will pave the way for further security technologies, including ultra-compact 3D facial recognition. In addition to unlocking smartphones and other consumer electronics devices, such technologies also can be used for high-security access controls in industry.”

Osram notes that the use of VCSEL technology to capture 3D environmental data has applications ranging from gesture recognition, proximity sensors, robotics, and augmented reality to autonomous driving. VCSEL stands for vertical cavity surface emitting laser and is a special type of laser diode in which the light is emitted perpendicular to the surface of the semiconductor chip. Vixar is a fabless semiconductor company, and has developed a robust volume supply chain consisting of merchant foundries serving the optoelectronic market. Osram’s depth and breadth of semiconductor experience will further strengthen the manufacturing capabilities for the rapidly growing VCSEL market.

Osram Also Acquires Grow Light Firm Fluence Bioengineering

The acquisition of Austin, Texas-based Fluence expands Osram’s portfolio of horticultural systems
Osram asserts that it is pioneering the digital automation of smart farming solutions that combine intelligent LED-based grow lights, sensors, and smart software.

Fluence, which was founded in 2013, has about 95 employees, and it boasts 2017 sales in the mid-double-digit millions of dollars (USD). The company specializes in LED-based horticultural systems utilizing Osram LED chips. The grow lights work for a wide variety of horticultural and agricultural applications including vertical farming, especially in urban areas. Potential crops include salad greens, herbs, and even medicinal plants. Osram and Fluence have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.

“Fluence is opening the floodgates to a huge future market,” said Stefan Kampmann, CTO of OSRAM Licht AG. “Fluence’s extensive knowledge of the horticulture market and possible applications, combined with Osram’s expertise in lighting technologies, sensors and connectivity, will position us as a leading horticultural solutions provider.” Associated smart farming software can be integrated into Osram’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform Lightelligence, which brings the digitalization of lighting control to a new level. By combining and analyzing sensor data, Lightelligence enables significant progress in automation and intelligent applications far beyond lighting.

Urbanization and Population Increase Boost Demand for Fresh Food

Increasing population and continued urbanization are intensifying the demand for fresh food, especially in densely populated cities around the world. To meet the needs of these areas, growers must tap the potential of greenhouses and vertical cultivation systems, utilizing smart lighting, sensor systems and artificial intelligence. In addition to growing healthy and tasty food, vertical farms reduce the need for long-distance transportation routes. They also lessen the need for pesticides, fertilizers and excessive water use, and ultimately reduce spoilage. These technologies, which also can be used for growers of medicinal plants, contribute to the goal of sustainable agriculture.

Fluence claims that its LED-based grow light solutions reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent and increase harvests yield by up to 25 percent.

Fluence also says that its grow lights can help enhance food quality and nutritional content.
LED-based solutions from Fluence help growers meet their yield and

The grow light company points out that because about 40 percent of food is spoiled between the producer and the supermarket shelf, smart farming takes on the additional role of helping get fresh food before it spoils.

“In the future, self-learning software algorithms will create and optimize digital plant models in order to cultivate tailor-made salads and herbs for platform partners such as supermarkets, online grocery shops and pharmaceutical companies,” Kampmann said.

Fluence Bioengineering Acquisition Part of Larger Grow Light and Smart Grow Light Investment

Osram notes that the company increased its investment and research into the horticulture sector over the last several years. The company has developed research and specialty luminaires that enable custom light recipes to be controlled for specific plant types. In 2017, Osram invested in the Munich-based startup Agrilution which creates plant cubes with LED lighting for home use.

Upon the close of the transaction, Fluence Bioengineering will be positioned within Osram’s Professional and Industrial Applications segment in the Specialty Lighting business unit.

“We are excited to be teaming up with Osram to drive forward this global expansion and expand our digital product portfolio. Our new and existing customers will benefit from our partnership with Osram in all matters relating to light and sensors,” said Fluence CEO Nick Klase.

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