Research Frontiers, the inventor of fast responding suspended particle device (SPD) light control technology, invested approximately $825,000 for a 6.9% minority ownership interest in the common stock of SPD Inc. During 2003, Research Frontiers wrote down its investment in SPD Inc. by $615,200 due to the financial condition and results of operations of SPD Inc. On April 28, 2004, SPD Inc. informed Research Frontiers that it is planning to sell the equipment and other assets of SPD Inc. and cease its business activities. As a result, Research Frontiers will write off its entire remaining investment in SPD Inc. of $209,704 in the quarter ended March 31, 2004.
Joseph M. Harary, President of Research Frontiers, noted that SPD Inc.'s factory in Incheon Korea was the first in the world to produce SPD light-control film using Research Frontiers patented suspended particle device (SPD) light-control technology. "While there were some limitations in SPD Inc.'s method of producing SPD film, they should be commended for introducing the first commercial SPD film product for architectural and automotive applications. The newer films currently being made by our other active licensees use the next-generation emulsions invented at Research Frontiers and developed for commercial scale-up by licensees including Hitachi, Dainippon, and Air Products. These emulsions can be rapidly cured into SPD light-control film have significantly improved performance characteristics such as much clearer optical viewing properties, 50% greater range of light transmission, fast switching speeds and excellent durability characteristics, even when tested under severe environmental conditions."
Hankuk Glass Industries, Inc. and its subsidiary, SPD Inc., is one of several companies licensed by Research Frontiers to make SPD light-control films. These other companies are now active in the production of light-control emulsions and films using Research Frontiers' SPD technology. At the 2004 Premier SPD Licensee Conference held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from April 15-17, 2004, Air Products and Chemicals, Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, and Hitachi Chemical Company, each made detailed presentations describing their SPD materials development and testing programs. Earlier this month, DuPont also obtained a license from Research Frontiers to make SPD emulsions, films, and SPD-Smart architectural and automotive windows. SPD films made from new emulsions produced by Dainippon Ink and Chemicals and Hitachi Chemical Company were also demonstrated at this conference, and these new second-generation emulsion-based SPD films all have very low haze levels, good durability, wide ranges of light transmission, and fast switching speeds of 1-3 seconds. As part of their conference presentations, these companies indicated that they expect SPD films made from these high-performance emulsions to become available to end-product licensees of Research Frontiers as early as May 2004. Sample SPD light-control films using these next-generation emulsions are already being delivered to licensees of Research Frontiers.
In a window, sunroof, or other product using VaryFast(TM) SPD-Smart(TM) technology, the user can manually or automatically "tune" the amount of light, glare and heat coming into a home, office, or vehicle. These windows, which can reduce energy consumption, also block over 99% of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation to protect occupants and prevent the fading of carpets, furniture, and artwork.