Take your iPod or iPad and plop it in a handy dock to recharge; that’s not unusual. The dock has speakers so you can listen to your music with room-filling sound. Also not so unusual. But look at this:
The Cinemin Slice from WowWee is a docking station that includes a pico projector so you can view photos or videos from your iProduct device. Pretty cool, huh?
The fact is that you’re going to see pico projectors a lot more in the future. At CES 2011, there were pocket projectors that we’ve seen before, but they are also being integrated into digital cameras, docking stations, and more.
Texas Instruments continues to be one of the leading makers of the tiny imagers used for these devices. At CES 2011, the company announced their new DL P Pico HD chip that brings high definition images to these tiny projectors. The chip has Wide XGA resolution (1366 by 768 pixels) so it can handle 720p images without having to scale down. While early pico projector models had brightness ratings of 10 lumens or less, current generation models are rated at up to 300 lumens using solid state lighting sources (which means no expensive lamp to replace).
Syndiant is another company that makes a pocket projector imager, and has a number of design wins including 3M. The company currently has a Wide SVGA chip — 854 by 600 pixels — but plans to sample a 720p panel later this year that will be just 0.37 inches diagonal. One of their partners is developing a projection TV box for developing markets such as India and China, where a low-powered pico projector could make an efficient display where electrical service is limited.
The whole pico projector market is developing rapidly, and is likely to result in massive growth for the components and the end products which will help drive down costs. Expect to see a lot more products with pico projectors embedded in them by next year’s CES.