Pez dispensers. That's what Texas Instruments used to showcase its new digital light processing (DLP) chips at the Consumer Electronics Show. The DLP chips are so tiny they fit right in the little candy dispensers. The actual projectors are a little bit bigger, but still small, and are being fitted into handheld devices ranging from cameras to cellphones. Texas Instruments says they see the pico projector market being a large revenue generator for the DLP chips.
Senior Vice President and General Manager of DLP products at Texas Instruments says that while 2009 was about introduction of the concept, 2010 is going to be about broadening the category. AT&T is already making the LG eXpo, the first phone to use the projector, however, it is not integrated into the phone but instead works as a snap-on device. It allows the phone to beam videos, websites, and other images.
Not all of the projectors will be that small. The company has crated the Brightboxe, which is described by the Dallas Morning News as being "a bit smaller than a lunchbox." The $199 projector is designed to work with video game consoles.
Unfortunately, the chip doesn't have a high-definition resolution (it goes up to 854 x 480) but Novak said he doesn't see much demand for HD in pico projectors. This leaves a lot of room for improvement and competitors are taking notice. Another company, Syndiant (which was coincidentally put together by former Texas Instrument employees) are developing a different type of technology - liquid crystal on silicon - to use in place of DLP. They are concentrating on high definition resolutions. They've recently had their hand in developing a projector with a resolution of 1024 x 600. Another hope for pico projectors is that they will eventually be able to display images in 3-D.
According to analysts, by 2016, hundreds of millions of phones and other handheld devices will have built-in projectors. In addition to Syndiant and Texas Instruments, 3M, Nikon, and Microvision looking to establish their projector products as top-of-the-line technology.
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