Sony Corp. said on Thursday it would establish a joint venture with a technology fund to develop a type of flat panel called field emission display.
Sony said it and Tokyo-based Technology Carve-out Investment Fund (TCI) would invest a total of 2.5 billion yen ($21.7 million) in the venture, which will start operations on Dec. 18 with about 30 employees.
Sony will take a 36.5 percent stake in the venture with TCI investing the remaining 63.5 percent.
Field emission display (FED) technology was invented in the 1970s as a possible alternative to the traditional cathode-ray tube TV but has never been commercialised, losing out to liquid-crystal displays and plasma displays in the flat panel race.
Toshiba Corp. and Canon Inc. are working together on a technology similar to FED called surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED), aiming to compete with LCD and plasma technology in the fast-growing flat TV market.
FED and SED technology can be use to develop flat displays that are bright, consume relatively little electricity and have wide viewing angles, but it remains unclear whether they will ever be commercially viable.
LCD and plasma display TVs have already been on the market for several years. Picture quality for both has improved greatly and production efficiency has risen sharply due to big investments by makers such as LCD TV giant Sharp Corp.
Sony spokesman Chisato Kitsukawa said any further investments would be made after assessing the venture's results in 18 months. The likely commercial target of FED technology would be large professional-use displays such as those used at broadcasters, he said.