Dolby buys BrightSide Technologies

Written by Tim Smalley

February 27, 2007 | 23:05

Tags: #brightside #buy #contrast #hdr #high-dynamic-range #lcd #led-backlight #technologies

Companies: #dolby #samsung

In a deal announced today, surround-sound experts Dolby Laboratories is to aquire Canadian start-up BrightSide Technologies for approximately $28 million USD.

If that name sounds familiar, you'd be right. BrightSide is the talent behind the world's first true HDR LCD display, producing whiter-than-white whites and indeed blacker-than-black blacks. Contrast ratios move beyond the current 1000:1 marker to 200,000:1 and more.

To date, if you wanted a true HDR LCD display you were limited to ponying up $50,000 for a BrightSide DR37-P which we looked at back in October 2005. We were told then that discussions were taking place with "several major Far-Eastern manufacturers" but the suggestion of mainstream production units being two years away made us want to cry. We had seen the future and we wanted it now!

Fast forward 18 months and things have moved on apace. As recently reported by our sister site, TrustedReviews, Samsung has demoed what it is calling Locally-dimming LED backlights which must be BrightSide's tech under license, since the Canadian company holds all the right patents for dynamic adjustment of backlighting.

The question remains though, why would audiophiles get involved in backlighting technology?

"Dolby has built its strong reputation and brand by delivering products and technologies that make the entertainment experience more realistic and immersive, and BrightSide's HDR image technology complements that strategy," said Bill Jasper, President and CEO at Dolby. "Acquiring BrightSide reflects our long-term focus on delivering innovative technology solutions to our licensees and their customers."

Having pioneered Dolby Stereo, Pro Logic, Dolby Digital and the latest, Dolby Digital EX, it is clear that 7.1 is more than enough for home-based surround sound. Where does a company like Dolby go from there? Financing cutting-edge image processing and backlighting technology, obviously!

Joking aside, we certainly wouldn't disagree with Bill Jasper's comments. With audio fidelity as good as done and dusted, the new frontier is visual fidelity and BrightSide's IMLED technology raises the bar so high, it's in orbit. The potential earnings from future royalties are staggering: anyone currently making LCD displays (HDTV and desktop displays alike) will want a piece of this action.

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