Pico Projectors Getting Better

Pico projectors are the tiny devices that are small enough to be built into a cell phone or portable media player, but can still create an image large enough that a few people can watch it at the same time. Insight Media organized the Projector Summit here in Orlando, before InfoComm 2009, and a number of companies demonstrated their latest designs.

In general, resolutions are getting higher and the devices are getting brighter. Some models have HVGA (480 by 320 pixel) resolution, but were higher. 3M showed a VGA (640 by 480 pixels) device, while LG and bTendo showed WVGA (about 850 by 480 pixels) resolution. Sypro Optics and Jabil showed a projector with an average 12 lumens brightness. Some designs rely on high brightness LEDs for the light source, while others use tiny lasers. Some use Texas Instruments DLP imager chips, others use LCoS, and there are some other novel technologies on the way as well.

According to Dr. William Coggshall of Pacific Media Associates, shipments of pico projectors are expected to top about 400,000 units this year. This is expected to grow rapidly to more than 25 million units by 2013. The bulk of these will be for personal use (as opposed to business users using them for PowerPoint at lunch meetings), so that people will have the same portable video experience that they now enjoy with music.

It will take a while for pico projectors to get to high definition resolutions, but you’ll see them in a range of portable devices. Samsung already has a phone and a portable media player with built-in projectors selling in Korea, and it won’t be long until you see such devices for sale in the United States.