Pico-projectors featured at upcoming Projection Summit

May 1, 2008
Pico-projector systems, many using LED light sources, are expected to be a major feature of the consumer electronics marketplace by 2012.
Pico-projectors, also known as nano-projectors, are intended for true mobile applications, and the smallest of these projectors are intended for integration into cell phones and other mobile devices. Units this small have been demonstrated, but are not expected to be commercially available until 2010.
Slightly larger projectors, where the entire projector including the 2-hour battery is about the size of a cell phone or PDA, are expected to be available later this year. These companion pico-projectors are designed to take the video signal from a cell phone, PDA, video iPod or other mobile source and show it on any convenient surface.

Insight Media has seen a projector of this type demonstrated using a white napkin in a restaurant as a screen. The 20-inch image was perfectly satisfactory for watching video material, although the resolution of this first-generation unit was not satisfactory for web browsing.

Many of the prototype companion projectors are powered by red, green and blue LEDs in a single-panel, color-sequential architecture. Prototypes with LCD, DLP or liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) microdisplays have all been demonstrated with satisfactory image quality.

Other color-sequential systems have used laser illumination, or hybrid illumination with red and green lasers and a blue LED. This is done because of the high maturity of blue LEDs compared to blue lasers. Still other systems have used microdisplays with color filter arrays and white LEDs.

While there are no current sales of these pico-projector systems, the forecasts show them growing to be a major factor in the consumer electronics marketplace by 2012.

At the Projection Summit, to be held in Las Vegas on June 16 and 17 just before the opening of Infocomm on June 18, one of the eight sessions will focus on the LED and laser light sources to be used in pico-projectors and other projection systems.

Another session will focus on market forecasts for pico-projectors and their larger cousins the pocket projectors. In addition, there will be a Pico-Projector Showcase, where competing models of pico-projectors producing 7 – 15 lumens will be shown side-by-side under identical conditions. Also on display will be pocket projectors, typically producing 50 -150 lumens with color sequential LED illumination.