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LIPA - the Laser Illuminated Projection Association

Cinema companies, including Imax Corp. (IMAX) and Sony Corp. (SNE), are creating an industry group to ease the regulatory climate facing next-generation projection systems that are based on laser-light sources.

As you can read in this previous post, IMAX was the first to bet on lasers and is currently finalizing an equity investment in start-up Laser Light Engines to co-develop a laser-based system. Other movie-projector manufacturers are expected to shift to lasers as well if lab tests prove out in the real world.

Light shows and other displays that use lasers are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, which is in charge of ensuring laser equipment safety.
Manufacturers of lasers and the operators of laser-light equipment require variances from the FDA, which can take several months to get approved:
Bill Beck is co-founder of Laser Light Engines and, along with the likes of Imax, Sony Corp. (SNE) and other cinema-industry players, is a driving force behind LIPA's creation. "What we're doing is not a laser-light show even though it's technically classified as a laser-light show," Beck told Dow Jones. "Our approach was to develop a new category called laser-illuminated projection...where the science and the application are completely different than if you're just aiming a laser beam out into a crowd at a rock concert."

The goal of the group is to find a balance between keeping the public safe with rules that aren't much more burdensome than those already in place to protect consumers in today's movie houses.
An FDA official said the agency is aware of developments in laser-projection cinema systems and that it's in discussions with the industry trade group and "taking its input into account as we consider various options."

Besides, Peter Lude, senior vice-president of solutions engineering at Sony, said the company's been studying various laser technologies for a couple of years, and while it hasn't committed to making a laser-illuminated projector yet, "we think it's more a matter of 'when' than a matter of 'if.'"


LIPA, laser illuminated projection association, IMAX, Sony, LLE



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