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7 April, 2022 - 22:17 By Tony Quested

Cambridge Mechatronics raising growth capital to fund global opportunities

Cambridge Mechatronics is raising significant capital to underpin a bold growth blueprint. Chairman Martin Knight reveals that the company has massive opportunities to scale which will require extra finance if the potential rewards are to be maximised.

In one strand of business relevant to the anticipated scale-up, CML is in active dialogue with major corporations focused on the AR/VR world and its patent portfolio is bulging with potential.

CML has world-leading expertise in the mechanical, optical, electrical, silicon and software design for system level solutions making use of its patented Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) platform technology. 

Actuators based on SMA wire as thin as a human hair can be controlled to the accuracy of the wavelength of light. These actuators are particularly suited to applications that require high levels of precision and force, in a compact and lightweight design.

CML has established relationships with major global corporations across international supply chains. Its solutions are in production under licence by global manufacturers, which are currently shipping in volumes of 10s of millions.

Dr Knight said: “CML as a business is an actuator company. Its technology is about actuation. And the demand for smart, high force, high precision controlled actuators is strong in many industries not just the smartphone camera market.

“To develop our interest in these industries we will need more capital – to ensure that our outstanding engineering team have the resources and the corporate and sales support needed to drive the business of CML forward.  

“The board is committed to ensuring that the business is adequately capitalised. As a result, a funding round is now in preparation to provide the financial wherewithal to underpin this effort.”

Dr Knight said the company’s optimism was based on several key factors:-

  • It has shipped in or is designed into 22 smartphones with its core optical image stabilisation (OIS) actuators
  • Its combined autofocus and OIS actuator is now in mass production with the first product launched in a handset in late 2021
  • Its sensor shift OIS actuator will be in market in late Q1 2022
  • 16 companies now hold a licence to CML technology
  • As well as its Cambridge hothouse, CML has established operations in the technology hotspots of Tokyo and San Francisco.

Earlier this year, CML was invited to present on the main stage alongside tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Snap at SPIE AR/VR/MR –  the industry’s leading event for AR and VR hardware and technology, and part of the larger SPIE Photonics West conference.

Dr Knight said CML has taken significant steps to broaden its revenue and product base. He said: “For smartphone cameras, we have improved the performance of our lens shift actuator; we have developed further our sensor shift actuator, introducing this technology to the Android smartphone ecosystem; we have developed a slim AF actuator, for use in foldable phones in particular; and we have a module tilt design for which we have strong hopes.

“Our 3D sensing module has been demonstrated to some interest, principally on the US West Coast.

“We have taken our haptic glove – targeted at the virtual reality market – to customers and will showcase our improved, more user friendly glove later in the spring in Asia and the US.

“We have made good progress in the development of our silicon strategy.  Recruiting experienced individuals in the field of silicon sales and chip design and development, we have taken concrete steps to ensure that we receive appropriate value for the control system that underpins our actuator performance at a cost to customers that is attractive.

“We have opened up the AR/VR world to CML’s technology. There is a significant hardware deficiency in the AR/VR world. The headsets, the handsets, the gloves currently in the market are too bulky, too power consumptive, to provide consumers with a truly immersive experience.  

“The strengths of our SMA based technology – small size, low power usage, precisely controllable – are eminently applicable to meet this hardware deficiency. We are in active dialogue with major corporations focused on the AR/VR world.

“To back up this growing interest in our technology, we now have over 500 patents granted or pending – a tribute to the skills and work of our growing engineering and IP teams.

“More than this, a broader industrial interest is being shown in our technology, for medical devices, for fluid control, for haptic applications.”

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