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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Handheld projectors start emerging

The problem of displaying information from ever smaller devices has been a major headache fro several years. Micromachined technology such as Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processor (DLP) have driven down the size of projectors to just-about-handheld (see previous stories) and now a new venture is tackling the same market.
Microvision of Redmond, Washington has developed a prototype of a truly handheld, battery powered projector (right) for mobile phones and personal media players that goes on show at the CES consumer electronics show next week (Jan 7th), although production is planned for the end of the year.
Code-named SHOW, Microvision's pico projector uses a single micromachined mirror (rather than TI's array of mirrors) and laser scanning to get the size down to 7mm thick and keep the power down. The images projected can range anywhere from 12 inches (30 cm) to 100 inches (2.5 m) in size depending upon the projection distance and are always in focus. The production version of the device is expected to offer approximately 2.5 hours of continuous battery life, sufficient to watch a full-length movie without a need for recharging.
Microvision says that SHOW can project a widescreen, WVGA (848 X 480 pixels), DVD quality image, compared to other miniature projectors that typically only offer QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels). The technology is already being used for a head-up display in development for cars.
"While mobile multi-media subscription services are on the rise, handset manufacturers, content providers and service providers view tiny cell phone displays as a barrier to stronger consumer adoption of their products and services,” said Alexander Tokman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Microvision. "SHOW is a significant milestone for Microvision and is proof that our technology is maturing according to plan and is close to being market-ready. Microvision's low-profile and low-power design, supported by leading supply chain partners, is very attractive to numerous mobile handset device manufactures, carriers and content providers. We believe that this milestone is meaningful not only for our company but for the industry at large," he said.

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