Google Invests in Glass Component Supplier Himax Technologies

The purpose of the investment is to fund production upgrades, expand capacity and further enhance production capabilities.

Search engine giant Google announced it has entered into an agreement with Himax Technologies, best known for supplying the liquid-crystal on silicon (LCOS) chips integrated into the Google Glass head-mounted display, to invest in the Himax Display Inc. (HDI) subsidiary.

Under the agreement, Google will purchase a certain amount of preferred shares in HDI. Upon closing, Google will hold a 6.3 percent interest in HDI, and Google also has an option to make additional investment of preferred shares at the same price within one year from closing. If that option is exercised in full, Google will own a total of up to 14.8 percent in HDI. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013 subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

According to a Himax release, the purpose of the investment is to fund production upgrades, expand capacity and further enhance production capabilities at HDI's facilities that produce liquid crystal on silicon. Himax will also invest an additional amount in HDI to fund its ongoing capacity expansion. HDI will also use a portion of the proceeds to substantially reduce its loan from Himax.

Founded in 2004, HDI focuses on developing commercial applications for LCOS technologies, in-house manufacturing expertise and production lines. Over the last few years, HDI has devoted its research and development of its LCOS technology for new applications of head-mounted display and other wearable computing applications, including Google’s much-hyped Glass product.

"Google is a pre-eminent global technology leader. We are delighted to receive this investment and to form a strategic partnership with Google," Jordan Wu, president and CEO of Himax, said in a statement. "Beginning the second quarter of this year, we had already begun expanding capacity to meet demand for our LCOS product line. This investment from Google further validates our commitment to developing breakthrough technologies and state-of-the-art production facilities. We look forward to leveraging this investment and our collective expertise with Google to create unique and transformational LCOS technologies for many years ahead."

Earlier this month, Google announced Glass was getting improved and expanded voice command capabilities under a new monthly software update being sent out to early Google Glass users. The update allows Glass users to do more things without having to touch any Glass controls, and it will allow users to communicate more easily with family members and friends in their contacts list, according to a July 1 post on the Google Glass page on Google+.

Another improved capability for Glass users is a new way for users to quickly dive deeper in searches to get exactly the information they need, right when they need it, according to the post. Once the user is on the Web page, they have multiple modes of navigation, such as moving their head from side to side.

Glass has the ability to take photos and record 720p HD video, and a touchpad is located on the side of the device, allowing users to control the device by swiping through a timeline-like interface displayed on the screen. Sliding backward shows current events, such as weather, and sliding forward shows past events, such as phone calls, photos and other features.