Investing in RPO

BASF Venture Capital is investing in RPO, the Wilmington, Delaware-based developer of optical waveguide technology used in small handheld devices for the consumer electronics industry.

RPO has raised $9.7 million in its Series B financing round, of which BASF Venture Capital has provided $2 million. Other companies participating in the financing round include GE Equity and JAFCO Asia.

RPO’s optical waveguides are said to be a key component of optical touch technology, which works by utilising an invisible sheet of light over the top of a flat panel display.

The light is transmitted across the screen using optical waveguides on polymer bases. When a finger or a pen interrupts the sheet of light a shadow is made, determining the position of the object. With enhanced optical brightness, increased battery life and improved scratch resistance, this optical touch technology overcomes fundamental shortcomings of resistive touch technology currently on the market.

RPO is already developing waveguides for use in prototypes of handheld devices. The market for touch screens in handheld devices is expected to reach $330 million by 2008, according to industry experts.

RPO was founded in 2000 as Redfern Polymer Optics in Canberra, Australia. RPO initially concentrated on telecommunication components, such as optical switches and attenuators, and in 2003 focused on touch screen applications. The financing round will enable RPO to prepare its technology for manufacturing, and to establish its corporate headquarters in the US.