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Virtus to Expand Commercialization of MEMS Sensor Technology

October 25, 2006

The developer plans to leverage its extensive global patent portfolio to advance next-generation products.


NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ -- Virtus Advanced Sensors, a developer of MEMS multi-axis inertial sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, and integrated motion sensors, plans on commercializing next-generation sensor technology based on its extensive global patent portfolio.

To support the commercialization of its sensor technology, Virtus will establish its new U.S. headquarters in Pittsburgh and has leased office space in a downtown location, which the company plans to occupy by the end of the year. Along with its current overseas office in Tokyo, Japan, the company will soon establish an office in Asia by the end of the year and hopes to have a European representative office by 2008. The U.S.-based company is considering building a production facility for its 6-axis motion sensors due out by the end of 2008, but has not yet determined where that facility will be located.

"We are very excited about the growth of the inertial sensor market and the enabling role MEMS will play moving forward. We believe our patent portfolio and management strategy will help us to quickly build a strong competitive position in this fast growing market", said Louis Ross, co-founder, president, and CEO of Virtus. Mr. Ross added that Virtus will be enhancing that portfolio aggressively over the next several years through collaboration with partners in academia and industry for region-specific applications and markets.

To help establish its office, the company is receiving financial, talent recruiting, and related business advisory support from The Technology Collaborative (TTC), a statewide economic development organization that supports the growth of Pennsylvania's world-class robotics, cyber-security, and digital technologies industries. Virtus has recently become a TTC member.

"We are thrilled to welcome Virtus Advanced Sensors as the newest member of The Technology Collaborative and regional high-tech community and are excited about the broad market applicability of their inertial sensor IP portfolio," said Mark Borger, vice president of business development at TTC. "Virtus represents both the technological strength and entrepreneurial spirit that has developed within our expanding cluster of companies in Pennsylvania. Their operations in Pittsburgh will not only create new jobs in the region, it will help to reinforce Pennsylvania's position as a world technology leader, capable of providing what every early-stage technology company needs: a business-friendly environment in which to operate, access to capital and innovative research/technology, a supply of talented people, and paths to commercialization via collaborative relationships with market leaders."

"I look forward to establishing our office in Pittsburgh. The city's impressive list of globally recognized research institutions, both public and private, and its universities are considered some of the best in the world for technology development related directly to some of our most promising applications," commented Mr. Ross. "We believe there is tremendous opportunity to work with local companies to jointly develop components/systems utilizing our technology, and we expect to eventually be able to draw from the local student community for both full-time and part-time employment."

Dr. Kazuhiro Okada, co-founder, inventor, and acting chief technology officer of Virtus, is "very excited about the prospects for developing a global business." Mr. Okada is also the acting president of Wacoh Research, the first MEMS start-up company in Japan and is a noted pioneer in the field of MEMS inertial sensors. The Wacoh patent portfolio includes more than 150 U.S., Japanese, and European patents, with 20 more patents pending. Wacoh is the largest licensor of multi-axis inertial sensor technology in Japan.

Currently, Virtus is developing 3-axis accelerometers and 3-axis accelerometer wireless units, 2- and 3-axis gyros, and 5- and 6-axis motion sensors, integrating both accelerometer and gyro components on one chip. The company plans to begin the mass production of 3-axis accelerometers in 2007 and commercialize the world's first fully integrated one-chip 6-axis motion sensor, consisting of a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyro sensor, in 2008.

According to Wicht Technology Consulting in Munich, the total market for MEMS inertial sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes) is set to grow from $835 million in 2004 to over $1.36 billion in 2009—a compound annual growth rate of 10%. This growth is expected due to the sharp increase in consumer electronics–oriented applications, which include next-generation cell phones, laptop computers, and miniature hard disk drives (HDDs). Along with the automotive industry, which has traditionally been the largest consumer of MEMS inertial sensors, other applications include next-generation medical devices, robotics, aerospace and defense.

About Virtus Advanced Sensors
Virtus Advanced Sensors is a next-generation sensor company, commercializing multi-axis inertial and force sensors developed using MEMS technology and micro-machining methods. Virtus maintains one of the largest patent portfolios in the world for MEM- based multi-axis inertial sensors. Virtus currently maintains offices in the U.S. and Japan.


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