Monday, February 16, 2009

"MEMS: Pico projector to obsolete handheld's LCD?"

Today at the GSMA Mobile World Congress, Texas Instruments announced an ultra-small digital-light processor (DLP) chip set aimed at the pico-projector market. Samsung has already announced that it will be the world's first mobile phone maker to use the new chip set, which projects HVGA (480-by-320 pixel) images at 7.5 lumens on any surface. TI's DLP already powers dedicated handheld pico projectors from Dell, Optoma and Samsung.

Other optics based pico projector modules are being developed by Microvision, 3M and National Semiconductor. Microvison's combines micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and lasers at resolutions up to 848-by-480 pixels at 10 lumens. Likewise, National Semiconductor's pico projector module will also use lasers. 3M's module, on the other hand, uses iquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) technology.

BOTTOM LINE: By the end of 2009, pico projectors from multiple sources will begin appearing in multi-function handheld consumer devices like mobile phones and iPod-like video players. In the beginning, the pico projectors will merely provide an additional display method besides the built-in LCD, but eventually some devices will ditch the LCD and depend entirely on the pico projector. These ultra-small wearable consumer devices are impossible today because of the requirement of having an LCD display that is large enough to easily see, but with the picro projectors ability to turn any surface into a display, wearable devices will begin to replace handhelds, such as smart phones built into watches or even rings.