Rohnert Park startup Pix2o see future for sports, ads, fairs, etc.ROHNERT PARK -- Just two years after launching Pix2o --- formerly Displ'aire --- Leo Sterns and Lynton Auld have built and sold their first mobile, flexible, LED jumbo screens.

One is leaving this week for a round of venues across the U.S.

New addition to the Pix2o team, based in the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster, tech-veteran Jerry Gladstone said the screens are sparking interest in everyone who sees them.

"Every person who watches that screen scroll down and sees the kind of color and resolution it's capable of comes up with a new idea," said Mr. Gladstone, a former vice president of Agilent Technologies.

Seven telecom engineers put their technical knowledge into the design of the mobile screens, which are operated from a laptop and can be set up at an indoor or outdoor venue in five minutes.

[caption id="attachment_20354" align="alignleft" width="277" caption="Pix2O screen in a large room"][/caption]

A jumbo screen, which comes with an operations booth and technicians to run the system, can cost $4,000 a day to rent and hours to set up. The Pix2o trailer-based screens would rent for less than $1,500.

Although the Pix2o screens represent an 80 percent cost saving over existing solutions, they match the size. The flexible screen's truss can handle an area of 26.5 feet by 32 feet, and two screens can be paired to double the size.

Transport is easy, according to Mr. Gladstone. Six of the rolled-up screens can fit into an 18-wheeler.

"Given the opportunities for display ads during events, the system will pay for itself rapidly," he said.

Country fairs, concerts, display advertisers and high school sports events were the venues the team originally had in mind, with display equipment rental companies the target customers.

But the team is hearing proposals for all kinds of applications, according to Mr. Sterns.

An auto exec from Mazda wants to use the screen at a ribbon-cutting for a new model, first showing the car rushing toward the audience on the screen, which would then roll up, displaying the actual auto behind it.

Sonoma State University wants to try it out at a graduation event, allowing for both up-close views of each graduate and congratulatory messages from parents.

"A yachtsman wants to set up the screens on barges to display America's Cup races on San Francisco Bay," said Mr. Gladstone.

In response to another suggestion, Pix2o found the screen could be made opaque by removing a percentage of the LED-containing bars.

Mark Dodd, the buyer of the first two screens --- at $250,000 apiece --- and a partner in the enterprise, owns both a staging company and an entertainment structure building company. He'll be demonstrating one of them to clients in Toronto, Indianapolis, Memphis, Dallas and Atlanta in the coming months.

"We're well-positioned to move Pix2o forward," said Mr. Dodd. "We're users of the screens ourselves. We have connections in both the show and show equipment industries, and we have the expertise and central location to act as technical support, which is important to users of a new technology."

The partners are hoping to drum up enough interest so that investment will flow, allowing them to ramp up production.

"We have manufacturing in place, all in the U.S.," said Mr. Gladstone.

The hardware is made by a contract manufacturer in San Jose, the mechanical parts by local machine shops. Waterproofing --- which inspired the name Pix2o --- is done in Reno; LEDs come from North Carolina; and roller assembly takes place in Mr. Dodd's Indianapolis facility.

"I'm more than excited about this company," said Mr. Gladstone. "I've been excited about many tech startups since retiring from Agilent, but this is the first one I've joined.

For more information, visit www.pix2o.com.