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 October 22, 1999

Stratavision takes big-screen idea to REALLY BIG TV

LOUISVILLE – There’s big-screen TV, and then there’s REALLY BIG-SCREEN TV.

How’d you like to have a 200-inch unit for the family room? Better check your credit-card limit because the price tag is a whopping $360,000.

American Shizuki, the makers of this large-format, fiber-optic display called Stratavision, know their high-end system is out of the price range of most of the consumer market. So they’re targeting the product primarily for more public venues such as trade shows, casinos, airports and large sports bars, for which its size and eye-popping image quality are well suited.

The company is now negotiating for office space in Louisville’s

Coal Creek Business Park for the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Nebraska.

Stratavision was introduced in Japan last year but just made its U.S. debut a few months ago. It is expected to compete with other large-format televisions such as Sony’s Jumbotron and Mitsubishi’s DiamondVision.

One of Stratavision’s unique properties is that the screen can be bent or curved without distortion.

“This flexibility is especially attractive to the trade show market, particularly for companies with large, glitzy exhibits,” explained Chuck Robertson, general manager for American Shizuki. “You can have the screen go around a corner, bend it into an S-curve, or even wrap it around a pillar.”

Stratavision also has generated interest among casinos. A 120-inch version of the product was recently on display in Las Vegas in the sports bar at Circus Circus.

That same Stratavision unit was at the Westin Tabor Center hotel in Denver earlier this year. It was a featured part of the National Quarterback Club awards dinner in June, showing career highlights of the Broncos’ John Elway and Randall Cunningham of the Minnesota Vikings.

The unit returned to the Westin in early September and will remain in residence in the lobby lounge area through next year’s Super Bowl.

“The reason we’re bringing it back is to generate additional bar revenue during what we think is the best sports time of year,´ said Susan Stiff, the Westin’s director of public relations. “There is so much for people to do now in downtown Denver. So we’re trying to encourage our guests to spend some of their dollars here rather than down the street.”

Indoor sports arenas are another potential market for the product. “Madison Square Garden is interested in the product right now,” Robertson said. “They have gone to HDTV video signals throughout their operation, and they want a video replay technology that is equally high tech, rather than just another LED-based system.”

Stratavision can even pay for itself directly when employed as an advertising medium. An airline is currently considering putting Stratavision screens on their airport baggage carousels to display ads and travel information to arriving passengers.

Instead of traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) technology, Stratavision uses more than 200,000 individual fiber-optic strands to deliver projected images to the screen.

“The color saturation is very intense and pleasing to the eye,´ said Robertson.

Joe Hallett, an Oregon-based consultant for the screen display industry, noted some similarities to plasma-based video display technologies, which are proliferating in the marketplace right now. “They’re both expensive, and they have similar advantages in compactness and a high degree of brightness.”

American Shizuki, a division of Shizuki Corp. in Japan, currently generates about $20 million a year selling component level products to the electronics industry and to major appliance manufacturers. The company expects Stratavision sales to become at least 50 percent of its total revenue over the next three years.

“Our general business plan is to get away from component-level technology and to make higher tech products like Stratavision a bigger percentage of our sales,” reported Robertson. The company expects to go public sometime in the next several years.

American Shizuki’s Louisville office will be the corporate headquarters for all of the company’s western hemisphere operations. The Nebraska manufacturing location will remain open, but some manufacturing eventually will be done in Colorado.

“Over the next few months we are going to be hiring design-level engineering people for our new Louisville location,” Robertson said. “We expect to employ about 20 to 25 people there by the end of this year, and eventually 40 to 50 in that office.”

LOUISVILLE – There’s big-screen TV, and then there’s REALLY BIG-SCREEN TV.

How’d you like to have a 200-inch unit for the family room? Better check your credit-card limit because the price tag is a whopping $360,000.

American Shizuki, the makers of this large-format, fiber-optic display called Stratavision, know their high-end system is out of the price range of most of the consumer market. So they’re targeting the product primarily for more public venues such as trade shows, casinos, airports and large sports bars, for which its size and eye-popping image quality are well suited.

The company is now negotiating for office space in…

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