Market tracking firm In-Stat has predicted that by 2014, there will be 20 million devices with pico projectors embedded in them. These are tiny front projector devices that use either bright LEDs or tiny lasers as a light source. They can create an image the size of a sheet of paper that can be viewed in most normal room lighting conditions, and with the lights dimmed way down, can make big images 50″ or larger.
In-Stat predicts that mobile phones will account for the bulk of the embedded projectors. This makes sense because mobile phone makers are caught in an endless arms race to add features and apparent value to their products in order to come up with some differentiation. And the current replacement cycle of less than two years requires accelerated development of these new features.
One possible beneficiary of this move may be the various mobile TV services. A cell phone screen is a bit small for most people to use to watch video programming for any length of time. A pico projector could not only make an image big enough for the user to see, it also can create an image that can be shared with other viewers easily.
The key to success will be getting the price down for these devices, but as production volumes increase, they should become more affordable. 20 million projectors in a mobile phone market that currently sells more than a billion units every year is just a fraction of a percent share over the forecast period, so it would seem to be a pretty safe prediction.