How small can a front projector get? Small enough to be bundled into a typical “smart phone”! A demonstration by Microvision at CES last week showed a tiny package that was displaying full color, full motion video content, and the mockup showed it fitting into a cell phone case. No, it wasn’t very bright, but an image the size of a sheet of paper was readily visible even in a brightly-lit hall. (Yes, they had the demonstration set up under a cover, but it was clearly bright enough to be practical.) One of the Microvision engineers said he had taken the demo unit home, turned off the room lights, and watched a 60″ image in the dark.
The device uses colored lasers for the illumination, so the image in focus at any distance without the need for lenses that would make the module larger. A company representative said that they expect to have modules in production by the end of this year, which means that they should start showing up in products — such as cell phones — by 2008.
This is a great step forward to let users watch video content anywhere, any time. It makes a much larger image than a pocket LCD screen, without the bulk and weight required for a laptop-size screen. In addition to entertainment, this could have great applications for business as well. Imagine propping your cell phone up on the restaurant table, and projecting your sales pitch to a prospect, shining your PowerPoint images onto the blank back of the menu. (Maybe there will even be a business to be made in supplying high-gain white pages to restuarants to include in their menus to provide a handy projection surface.)