RESEARCH FRONTIERS ENTERS INTO
LICENSE AGREEMENT COVERING "SMART" SUNVISORS
WITH MAJOR AUTOMOTIVE SUPPLIER
WOODBURY, NEW YORK, December 15, 1999 Research Frontiers Incorporated (Nasdaq: REFR) announced today that it has granted a non-exclusive worldwide license to a leading automotive equipment supplier. The license permits the licensee to manufacture and sell automatically dimming SPD automotive vehicle "smart" sunvisors which use Research Frontiers fast-responding SPD light-control technology. In addition to minimum annual royalties, Research Frontiers will receive a royalty of 5% of net sales of licensed products. The identity of the licensee is being temporarily kept confidential at the request of the licensee in order not to interfere with the consummation of another business transaction by the licensee.
Currently sunvisors used in automobiles and trucks are generally opaque flaps which swing on hinges and are manually controlled by the vehicles driver. SPD rear-view sunvisors, with their virtually instantaneous reaction time, can feature "real time" switching in which the sunvisor can quickly and automatically or manually adjust to control glare. In addition to being usable inside the front windshield, SPD sunvisors may also be used to block glare and sunlight from the side and rear of a vehicle as well.
"Normal sunvisors block the drivers vision. SPD sunvisors will enable a driver to leave the sunvisor in the "down" position and still see the road ahead. When the Sun or another bright object is in front of the vehicle, the SPD sunvisor will quickly become dark but not opaque. Even when the SPD sunvisor is dark, the driver will be able to see through it, leaving his or her view unobstructed. However, when lighting conditions change, the sunvisor can automatically become highly transparent," said Robert L. Saxe, President of Research Frontiers. "At present, SPD technology appears to be the best choice for variable light transmission sunvisors, because alternative technologies such as electrochromic or liquid crystal devices are likely to be either too slow, too hazy, or too expensive. There is no known competitive automatically changeable sunvisor product that can match the SPDs speed, range of light transmission, low haze and cost-effectiveness. We think this is going to be a fantastic product that will promote safety and comfort in the automotive market," Saxe explained.
The annual worldwide production of automotive sunvisors is estimated to be about 100 million sunvisors. In addition, an estimated 800 million conventional sunvisors are installed on cars and trucks currently on the road, which drivers may wish to replace with SPD sunvisors when they become available for the aftermarket.
In addition to sunvisors, SPD technology can also be used by the automotive industry for rear-view mirrors, sunroofs, vehicle windows, and dashboard instrument panels and navigation systems. Research Frontiers plans to continue to license SPD technology for all such automotive applications. In addition to the present license, Research Frontiers has licensed various SPD automotive applications to Hankuk Glass Industries Inc. (which outside of Japan is reportedly Asias largest flat glass producer), Material Sciences Corporation (NYSE: MSC), which is the worlds second largest producer of specialty window films, Global Mirror GmbH & Co. KG (which is the worlds largest manufacturer of commercial vehicle mirror systems), and Glaverbel, SA of Belgium (which is majority-owned by Asahi Glass, one of the worlds largest automotive glass manufacturing companies). Licensees of Research Frontiers who incorporate SPD technology into end products will pay Research Frontiers a royalty of 5-10% of net sales of licensed products under license agreements currently in effect.
"The supply chain we have built from licensing key industry leaders for various components used to make SPD products has now made it progressively easier for end-product makers to get involved with the production of innovative products which use SPD technology to promote safety, comfort, and performance. In order to more effectively support the activities of our licensees, we like to have licensed and trained more than one industry leader in each of the chemical and film-coating industries," noted Joseph M. Harary, Executive Vice President of Research Frontiers. Research Frontiers now has at least two licensees (Dainippon Ink and Chemicals and Hitachi Chemical Co.), and four film-making licensees (General Electric (NYSE: GE), Hankuk Glass Industries, Hitachi Chemical and Material Sciences Corp.). Harary continued: "We also like to have more than one industry leader producing each of the many end-products that can use SPD technology. We now have several companies licensed to make mirrors, sunvisors, and smart windows using SPD technology."
Research Frontiers is a technological leader in the development and licensing of suspended particle deviceselectrically operated light control devices using proprietary particle suspensions. SPD technology permits light transmission to be electrically controlled instantly either automatically or by the user. Devices which can use SPD technology include variable light transmission "smart" windows, variable light transmission goggles and other types of eyewear, self-dimmable automotive sunroofs, sunvisors and rear-view mirrors, and flat panel information displays for use in computers, television, telephones and other electronic instruments. Research Frontiers currently has agreements in effect covering smart windows, automotive mirrors and sunvisors, eyewear, displays and other products with major international corporations and holds or has rights in about 350 patents and patent applications on SPD technology throughout the world. Additional information on Research Frontiers can be found on the internet at http://www.refr-spd.com.
Note: From time to time the Company may issue forward looking statements which involve risks and uncertainties. This press release contains forward looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Actual results could differ and are not guaranteed. Any forward looking statements should be considered accordingly.
For Immediate Release
Robert L. Saxe, President
Patricia A. Bryant, Manager of Investor Relations
Research Frontiers Incorporated