Electronic Design
Tiny Projectors at CES 2011

Tiny Projectors at CES 2011

Compact pico projecters were relatively new last year at CES and they were everywhere this year. The technology is also showing up in a range of devices from cameras to camcorders to smartphones. A combination of low power, improved LED light sources and integrated solutions allow fast time-to-market.

We did video interviews with Syndiant and Texas Instruments, two suppliers of the underlying technology.

Syndiant's VueG8 technology is found in Aiptek's PocketCinema T25 Pico Projector (Fig. 1). It uses a panel like Syndiant's SYL2030 (Fig. 2). The PocketCinema T25 delivers a 25 lumen with 800 by 600 resolution. It has a 400:1 contrast ratio. It can project an image up to 185 cm (73-in) diagonal. An RGB LED lamp system is key to the bright display and low power operation. It is rated at 20,000 hours.

Designing a pico projection system is easy these days as developers often take advantage of a light engine (Fig. 3) that include Syndiant's panel. All that is needed is a power and video source. Batteries and USB typically provide more than enough power for these systems.

Texas Instrument's is now delivering large and small DLP chips (Fig. 4). The larger chips are used in rear projection DLPs available from Mitsubishi as well as HDTV quality projectors. The smaller versions are used a wide range of projection systems including pico projectors.

MEMS-based DLP technology is being used for some interesting applications other than just projecting movies and PowerPoint presentations. For example, one system is used in a UV lithography system. Developers can check out Logic PD’s $2499 DLP LightCommander Development Kit (see Take Command Of Your DLP Projector Projects).

Texas Instrument's latest collection of compact DLP chips (Fig. 5) handles resolutions from VGA though 1080p. Light engines based on this technology allow developers to build pico projection systems as well as other interesting embedded applications. DLP provides significant advantages when it comes to contrast. The technology was one of the first to be used with 3D television as well.

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