InPhase Picks Up $20M

Holographic startup prepares to launch its first products after clinching fresh round

January 15, 2008

3 Min Read
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After more than seven years in the lab, holographic storage startup InPhase is finally preparing to launch its first products after clinching $20 million in Series D funding.

The round, which has not been officially announced, brings InPhase's total funding to around $95 million. "It's basically for finishing the product, getting it tested, and getting it out to market," says Liz Murphy, the firm's vice president of marketing. "A lot of it is dedicated to buying parts and setting up the manufacturing process."

The exec would not say which firms provided the Series D financing, although she did confirm that InPhase's current investors are involved. A host of firms have already thrown their financial weight behind the holographic storage specialist, including Hitachi-Maxell, Bayer MaterialScience, and venture firms Signal Lake and New Venture Partners.

A subset of optical storage, holographic storage goes beyond the surface recording of traditional disk to lay down data in layers, which is where the technology derives its density advantage. InPhase has already demonstrated densities of as high as 515 gigabits per square inch in its lab, compared to around 20 gigabits per square inch for Blu-Ray disk. The company claims a 50-year lifespan for its technology.

InPhase will begin shipping 300-Gbyte holographic disks with a data transfer rate of 20 Mbytes per second during the summer, according to Murphy.Target markets are image-intensive businesses. "We're really focused on the broadcast and video industries and a lot of government applications," she says, adding that Turner Broadcasting is one of more than 10 firms currently testing the technology.

The firm first grabbed the attention of Byte and Switch just over a year ago. Holographic storage should have a lifespan that tape cant touch and transfer and capacity thresholds that outpace other disk and optical technologies.

It has nonetheless been a long and painstaking road for InPhase, which was spun out of a research project at Bell Labs in December 2000.

"This is a new technology that is like nothing else, so there is no one else that we can turn to and say, 'Do you have some expertise?'" explains Murphy. "Whenever we ran into problems, we had to figure them out ourselves -- it was just us hunkering down and getting things done.

"There was no installed base of holographic engineers," adds the exec. "We had to develop the holographic engineering capabilities ourselves."With this expertise finally in place, InPhase is now preparing to make its holographic technology available to the masses, selling both directly and indirectly. "Some of the money will be spent on external customer engagement programs," explains Murphy, adding that she is now looking to add up 20 sales and marketing staff to the startup's 100-strong workforce.

Other vendors, including Aprilis, and PowerFile, are also playing in the optical storage space, although InPhase has been quietly laying partner foundations over recent months.

Last year the Longmont, Colo.-based vendor signed Rorke Data as a reseller and also clinched a deal with electronics manufacturer Ikegami, which will OEM the holographic drive. InPhase has also snuggled up to Panasonic, which will recommend the vendor's drive as the archive solution for its P2 range of camcorders.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Aprilis Inc.

  • Bell Labs

  • Hitachi-Maxell Ltd.

  • InPhase Technologies

  • New Venture Partners LLC

  • Panasonic

  • PowerFile Inc.

  • Rorke Data Inc.

  • Signal Lake Ventures0

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