With Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, and Apple's recent acquisition of Israeli 3D sensor company PrimeSense, sensors are making quite the splash these days. Increasingly, sensors are being deployed all around us measuring, interpreting, and transmitting troves of actionable data. Whether it's for a smarter building where an occupancy sensor detects if anyone is in a room, a manufacturing environment where sensors ensure tight process control, or in a car where rotation sensors detect a slipping wheel, sensors impact most major industries today.

Electronics are complicated products. When you stop to really think about it and itemize the components of your flat screen TV, tablet, and even LED light bulb, there is much more than circuitry, wiring, and glass contained inside. There is, in fact, a significant opportunity for materials innovation as manufacturers seek to provide products that are lighter, faster, and more energy efficient. My colleague Andrew has previously blogged about LED lighting innovation in relation to increasing energy efficiency, and here I will focus on transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs), which are used in touch panels, flat displays, photovoltaics, lighting, and more.

Smartphones and NFC Intelligence

Posted by on in Electronics

Samsung Electronics unveiled its new Galaxy S4 in New York last week to great fan fare and high expectations. One key feature of the new phone is its near-field communication (NFC) capabilities.

NFC-enabled smartphones allow the user to interact with products at a local and retail level. The user can now use his or her phone to get product level intelligence simply by tapping the phone on a product. The phone can redeem coupons by tapping a coupon tag at the front of a store and then enable the customer to purchase the item via secure payment systems.

The average cost of a 30 second ad during last week’s Superbowl was about $4 million. So when a power outage delays the game for 34 minutes, it’s kind of a big deal. It looks bad for the Superdome, the local utility company (Entergy), the perhaps-not-yet-fully recovered city of New Orleans, the NFL, and for the US at large. CBS was caught off guard and some awkward pauses and transitions accompanied the bizarre turn of events. We can’t keep the lights on at an event averaging over 100 million viewers?

LED lighting has the potential to be one of the true blockbuster clean tech markets. A 2011 report by McKinsey & Company forecasts the global lighting market to reach €108BB($140BB) by 2020 with LEDs taking €64BB($83BB) of that share. This is a 10X increase from the LED lighting market size today. Technology is advancing as well; with Cree producing a record 254 lumen-per-watt device in 2012 - almost a 3X increase over the last decade. Exciting stuff for VCs indeed!!! At Pangaea Ventures we share in the excitement but worry that current thinking just won’t take us far enough.