Holographic Storage Grabs Spotlight

Lucent spinoff to demo Tapestry system at U.S. broadcasters' convention.

Holographic storage, widely considered a technology of the future, may gain needed credibility with InPhase Technologies Inc.s demonstration next week.

The spinoff of Lucent Technologies Inc. will show its Tapestry system, using 30-second MPEG video files, at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, said Lisa Dhar, vice president of media development for InPhase, in Longmont, Colo. The demonstration should prove that InPhase has its toughest obstacles behind it and can now start considering commercialization, Dhar said.

"When we spun out, we really felt like wed cleared the research hurdle," Dhar said. "A lot of work has gone into optimization of the material" and its shelf life and light sensitivity, she said. "Were targeting products in limited volume by the end of 2003," Dhar said.

Its unclear whether InPhase will sell products directly, license components to storage companies or license technology to Lucent, in Murray Hill, N.J.

Further indication of InPhases intention to commercialize, Dhar said, is its recent hiring spree of storage industry veterans, including Chief Financial Officer Andrew Evans, who previously worked for Latis Networks Inc., and Skip Kilsdonk, vice president of business development, who has worked for such companies as Maxtor Corp., TeraStor Corp., Compaq Computer Corp. and Quantum Corp.

A DVD using holographic data can store 100GB today and, within a decade, will be able to store a terabyte, Dhar said.

Wolfgang Schlichting, an analyst with International Data Corp., agreed that InPhases planned demonstration is good news but said that more is needed than is publicized.

"They are clearly getting one step closer. Cost is really one of the key issues," said Schlichting, in Framingham, Mass. In addition, "theyve got to really make a case to the target audience in terms of the improved capacity and data speed," he said.

Many in the industry are still waiting to hear InPhase discuss rewriteable drives, longer recording time and lower-power units, he said. InPhase competes against Polaroid Corp. spinoff Aprilis Inc., of Maynard, Mass., and Optware Corp., of Kanagawa, Japan.