Could your next cell phone be an HDTV? It’s possible, given the advances in light sources for small projectors. As demonstrated at CES by a number of companies, the lighting packages are getting small enough to include in a typical “smart phone” housing. Earlier this month, Osram Opto Semiconductors announced a new six-LED package that could be used to create brighter and more colorful tiny projectors. The solid state white light source is rated at 50,000 hours of use, so there will be no need to replace it during the lifetime of the product. By comparison, typical projector lamps are rated at 2,000 to 3,000 hours of use. The new Osram module is brighter than a 50 watt halogen lamp. The company plans to have the module in full production by this summer.
Tiny and efficient light sources such as this can transform the display industry. Instead of lugging around a projector, it can be built right into your PDA, phone, or laptop. These are getting bright enough to project a page-sized image under normal lighting conditions, or a wall-filling picture with the lights out. This will make a video viewing experience available any time and any place, much as we now enjoy listening to music wherever and whenever we’d like. I expect that new technologies such as Osram’s LEDs will lead to new display applications that we have not yet imagined.