PARC wants to make money

Famous for not making money out of its research, Xerox PARC say that it has a cunning plan to stimulate inovation by making pots of it.

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is in the unfortunate position of everyone thinking that Steve Jobs invented the mouse because it failed to commercialise its brilliant ideas.

Xerox did commercialise PARC’s laser printing, Ethernet networking, the PDF file format, and electronic paper were made famous by others.

Now, according to Technology Review, PARC is going to change its strategy and make money like the rest of the technology industry.

Last month, a Norwegian company called Thinfilm Electronics and PARC showed off plastic film that combined printed transistors and printed digital memory.

Lawrence Lee, PARC’s director of strategy said that advances in printing transistors came at around the same time the lab was being reorganised, making the idea a key proving ground for the new money making plan. .

PARC at first hoped to develop organic electronic displays, a potentially huge market, but the technology proved difficult to manufacture, and it fell far short of silicon-based displays in performance.

In the old days, PARC would have given up and waited for someone else to pick up the idea, particularly as Xerox could not see the point of pushing inventions which were not copier related.

But now PARC has started shipping the technology to manufacturers, telling them that printed transistors could also provide very cheap, flexible sensors and computer logic for packaging, and toys.

While manufacturers liked the idea they wanted to see a benchtop experiment. So PARC got together with Thinfilm, which was already making printed memory. The resulting prototype circuit was the first to combine both printed transistors and memory.