SiOptica raises $4m for privacy filters

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Jena-based siOptica has secured €4 million growth financing for expanding its product portfolio of switchable optical privacy filters.

The investment - from German investors bm|t and Capital-E II Arkiv - will also be used to develop new IP, file corresponding patents and develop new generations of filters.

SiOptica offers switchable privacy solutions for displays applied in markets such as automotive, ATMs and other payment devices, as well as mobile devices such as laptops. 

According to the company, most of the current privacy filters available today lower the brightness of existing LCD screens by a factor of two or more, and can only be used in one mode. SiOptica's filters allow switching between a privacy and a normal mode, and at the same time reducing the brightness losses. 

The switch ability is done by software in conjunction with a special optical filter on the display panel that allows toggling between a standard 'public' mode (full resolution view from any angle) and privacy mode (partial or full panel size) with restricted viewing angle (see image below).


In public mode (left), there are no viewing restrictions of the display, whereas in private mode the display is only visible from a selected angle. Credit: SiOptica

For example, the integrated privacy filters secure pin entry on ATMs and other payment terminals by preventing skimming, or can allow passengers in vehicles to use a second display without distracting the driver. Navigation data and other important information remain visible to the driver at any time. Industry studies underline that from 2022 onwards every second car will be equipped with at least two front displays.

Screen privacy also plays an important role in many other situations. Numerous companies impose or at least encourage their employees to use privacy filters on their mobile devices when outside the company premises. 

With this investment, bm|t (beteiligungsmanagement thüringen), which also manages the funds 'Private Equity Thüringen' and the growth fund 'Stiftung Thüringer Beteiligungskapital', which both invested in SiOptica, has become the majority shareholder in the company.