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Micro-Projectors May Bring YouTube On-The-Go 143

Posted by Zonk
from the that-wacky-cat-washer-never-gets-old dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A tiny portable projector, about the size of a pack of cards, may soon replace a ring tone as the most annoying thing on the train or bus. These technical innovations can project an image up to 50 inches in size in dark lighting, making them ideal for on-the-road business presentations. They can also be hooked up to cell phones or media devices, though, possibly introducing a whole new level of social intrusion into US culture. 'Digital projectors were once bulky. These new models, though, are small enough to fit into the pocket of consumers who want a big-screen experience from a small-screen device. Some of the models are expected to be on the market by year-end, or sooner. Prices have yet to be announced. Matthew S. Brennesholtz, an analyst at Insight Media, a marketing research firm in Norwalk, Conn., says he thinks the projectors will initially cost about $350, then quickly drop to less than $300.'"
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Micro-Projectors May Bring YouTube On-The-Go

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  • Cool. What about tv? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by electrictroy (912290) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:12AM (#22930382)
    Can I connect this thing to my HD DVD player? At $300 it's cheaper than buying a real 40 inch screen.

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:25AM (#22930488) Homepage Journal
      At $300, it's probably VGA or SVGA res, good enough for DVD, but blow it up too large and you'll be seeing the gaps between the pixels. HD projectors run over $1000. A good 1080p projector can be had for about $2000 now, and they're generally quite beautiful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anne Thwacks (531696)
        At $300, it's probably VGA or SVGA res For youtube its probably QVGA (320x240) same as VHS, and good enough for a mobile phone.
        • VHS is actually double that resolution (320 across x 486 scanlines).

          Thanks for the info on the HD Projectors.
          • VHS is actually double that resolution (320 across x 486 scanlines).

            ...interlaced.

            Which basically means that it's still actually 320x240 as the parent said (like a regular non-HD CRT TV).
            But the VCR is quickly alternating between odd and even lines go give the illusion of a higher resolution.
            (2 times per frame. So the VCR sends 60 fields per second for 30 fps US/JP NTSC shows, and 50 fields per second for 25 fps EU PAL/SECAM shows - although at a slightly higher resolution).

            If you display the video on a no

            • This feels kinda like nitpicking, but incorrect is incorrect. VHS is not 320x240 per frame. It is (approximately) 320x480 per frame and 30 frames per second for NTSC.

              If you display VHS on a 320x240 screen, then you are only seeing half the image (field 1 is shown; field 2 is thrown away). So VHS is double QVGA resolution, because it has the same number of frames per second (30) but twice as many scanlines (480 versus 240).

          • VHS is analog in the horizontal, so that "320" is sort of meaningless.
            • Not really meaningless, just variable. VHS varies in quality depending upon the speed used. Generally speaking:

              SP == 335 distinct black-and-white dots from left-to-right
              EP/SLP == 305

              The quality of the signal affects the resolution, so that it is not fixed like digital. If you go to a more advanced standard like Laserdisc or Super VHS, then you would see 560 distinct B&W dots. And finally DVD, when viewed through analog S-video, would be about 640 viewable resolution... the maximum that NTSC can hand
          • by aliquis (678370)
            ... and interlaced?
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I've got a 1080p DLP rear projector with a 50" screen. Why can't I just take off the screen and project the picture onto an even larger wall from further away?
        • by clonan (64380)
          focus.....
          • by ah.clem (147626) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:16PM (#22931334)
            I'm trying...
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            So shouldn't I be able to get a lens or two to compensate? It seems cheaper than buying a second TV for the bigger projection (and the extra storage for the redundancy).
            • by clonan (64380)
              You could, but you would also need a mounting system as well as an enclosure to keep dust of of it...Plus since it already has a fairly fixed focus on the existing screen you may need to remove that set up and finally, well ground kenses of any size can be extremly expensive.

              If only there were a small projector device that probably would cost about the same as creating a focusing box from scratch...something that cost say about $300?
              • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                I don't think a $300 mobile (or stationary) projector is going to do 1080p anytime soon. Certainly not one as nice as my 50" DLP.

                I wonder how long it will take before "dual mode" TVs are available. I don't want to watch a 200" screen all the time, especially if it needs a darkened room.

                Maybe some kind of fiberoptic bundle that can plug into the enclosed rear projector, maybe with extra lumens for the bigger projection, but sharing all the other equipment. A fiber bundle could even point at an arbitrary wall
        • I've got a 1080p DLP rear projector with a 50" screen. Why can't I just take off the screen and project the picture onto an even larger wall from further away?

          Maybe you can, but there may be issues as well. It might be designed only to focus within a few inches of the existing screen, because it wasn't expected that a person would try that, it's just easier to make. You would probably void your warranty. You probably can't set it to ceiling mount mode and hang it from the ceiling.
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Rogerborg (306625)

          Why can't I just take off the screen

          Because you were at the back of the queue for opposable thumbs? How the hell should we know what your handicap is?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        you also forgot to mention they have existed for several years now. you can buy one now at http://salestores.com/mitsub44.html [salestores.com]

        They generally suck as sales people treat them like they are durable and they are in fact not in any way. they break easily. When i left Comcast the back room had 6 pocket projectors that were dead as hell from sales guys damaging them.
        • you also forgot to mention they have existed for several years now. you can buy one now at http://salestores.com/mitsub44.html [salestores.com]

          They generally suck as sales people treat them like they are durable and they are in fact not in any way. they break easily


          Those are just smaller versions of old technology. The new ones being developed use lasers or LEDs as the light source. The laser projector being demonstrated by Microvision is amazing. Infinite focus, small enough to fit into a normal sized cell phone. It uses
    • by pjt33 (739471)
      Before you buy into "$300" you want to ask what the bulb lifetime is and how much the replacements will cost - because it wouldn't surprise me if the replacement bulb were to cost more than the projector and last a year or two. Think ink cartridges: projectors follow a similar economic model.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dtfusion (658871)
        They use lasers and lcds. The lifetime should be quite long. No bulbs to replace. They're even talking about fitting these things into smart phones eventually. With a market that size the cost should truly be under $300.
  • How many mini projectors will have to "be comming soon" to get the editors to stop posting these stories?
  • Convenient! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:12AM (#22930396) Homepage Journal
    If one is used in a movie theater, it's just the right size to crush under one's heel.
  • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:14AM (#22930412)
    I'd definitely get one of these to use at work. Sometimes I find myself in a meeting with a few people in a place with no projectors, so it'd be useful to be able to go over something that could be kept in my pocket, ready to sue at a moments notice. This is especially useful since my employer is stingy with the number of conference rooms with projectors.
  • by Arnonymous Coward (1208208) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:14AM (#22930414)
    The submitter could at least have linked to the YouTube Video [youtube.com] of the projector prototype.
  • by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:16AM (#22930430) Journal
    So, how hot will the bulbs in these pocket projectors get?
    I smell a market for a project projector protector!
    • by esampson (223745)
      Yeah, but real geeks will keep these in their shirt pockets, requiring a project projector pocket protector.
  • by Lxy (80823) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:19AM (#22930452) Journal
    Because nothing says professional like holding a sales meeting presentation on a manilla folder or a NAPKIN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      woah woah woah, you've got it all wrong. That's not how you make sales. You make sales by bringing the hot new intern and projecting the presentation on her front / backside (depending upon the clients preference, of course).
  • by doti (966971)
    what does youtube has to do with this story?

    there are plenty other better uses for this tech.
    • With a feedback video camera to detect the "screen"'s location, position, and shape-distortion, plus some serious processor power, you could texture map any costume (or lack thereof) on a moving body (with sufficiently light-colored clothing). Cancel out the existing clothing's coloration, too.

      Now THERE's an April Fool prank - that could get you fired, sued, and/or jailed.
  • how much light? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:26AM (#22930498)
    Until now, projectors needed ungodly amounts of light to project an image bright enough to be usable in a non-darkened room. Either these miniprojectors use some kind of superefficient light source, or that 60" image can only be seen in total darkness.
    • Re:how much light? (Score:4, Informative)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:53AM (#22930704)
      Weeeeell, that is part of the second paragraph of TFA. It says that the 60" image can only be seen in dark rooms while a 7"-20" image can be seen with some ambient light.
    • by nguy (1207026)
      If you RTFA, you'll find that they use "dark lighting". Obviously, that's just like regular lighting, except that it makes anything it shines on dark instead of bright. That's the scientific breakthrough that allows them to pack a 60" projector into a box the size of a pack of cards and power it with a single AAA battery. Dark lighting, I tell you, it's the future.
    • by Solandri (704621)
      Contemporary projectors require ungodly amounts of light because they're horribly inefficient. They're generating a broad-spectrum light (basically light at all visible wavelengths plus some) from an incandescent light source. That's already converting probably 90% of the energy into heat. Then they're running it through (for DLP) three color filters in sequence, so convert on average 67% more of the light energy into heat. Then each filter removes everything except a narrow band of red, green, or blue,
      • by timeOday (582209)

        Thus no waste light which gets converted into heat.

        Most of it would still be wasted if you're bouncing it off a screen, since it reflects off on some other direction than through your pupil.

        Diode lasers beaming onto the lens of your eye (instead of a screen), now you're getting somewhere.

        But then there's still direct optic nerve stimulation... that would be neat for a lot of reasons. Re-purposing the highest bandwidth link into your brain has endless possibilities.

    • I saw one of these in use a few weeks ago by one of our VPs. He was walking around the room showing his presentation on the walls and ceiling. It was kind of difficult to see compared to the normal projector that was in use. He said the first generation is a little dim, but the second generation for release should be brighter. He also mentioned that you really can't tell a difference in a dark room--we were in a conference room with the lights on.

      I didn't get a good look at it, but it must have some sor
  • Physics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj245 (732906) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:27AM (#22930500) Homepage
    You can't break the laws of physics. If you want a bright image you need to draw a lot of power. Even if you go with very efficient LEDs, the battery life on these things is going to be terrible.
    • Re:Physics (Score:5, Funny)

      by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:36AM (#22930568)

      You can't break the laws of physics.
      Damn it Scotty, I need 6000 lumens on the side of this mountain playing Moulin Rouge. I don't care how you do it but get me those lumens mister, that's an order. Kirk out.
      • Damn it Scotty, I need 6000 lumens on the side of this mountain playing Moulin Rouge.

        As if Kirk doesn't get his own way often enough, with mountains that play Moulin Rouge!

        Seriously though... I thing projectors on phones is a great idea. And yes, it'll draw power, but phones have been drawing ever-increasing power for a while now. They're (eventually) destined to be the next PC, remembering that the P is for "Personal", and that "Desktop" is what most of us now call our main workstation machine.

        And for a

      • by AJWM (19027)
        "Aye, Captain. We'll detune to the main phaser banks to 'illuminate', raster the beam and feed in the modulation signal via the main plasma conduit."
        "Well done, Scotty!"
        "But I must warn ye, Captain, if we pause the image it'll be etched into the side o' the mountain like a giant bas relief..."
    • "You can't break the laws of physics."

      Prove it.
      • Hey, I went faster than the speed of light tomorrow.

        Now I just have to wait for all of the rest of the world to catch up.
    • by PPH (736903)

      Its April 1. Didn' they mention the RTG power pack?

      Ita a cell phone! No, It's a hand-warmer!

    • by MrSteveSD (801820)
      Well a lot of it is about contrast really. The ambient light screws up the contrast because the blacks are no longer very black. There are screens available that try to eliminate ambient light by only reflecting very narrow red green and blue wavelengths which correspond to the output of certain projectors. Of course, that means you'd have to carry a screen around with you.

      For the personal big screen experience I really think video goggles make a lot more sense. The Indicube will be released soon. It's a
    • I'm not totally clear yet, but I think we're looking at two different miniature projector technologies.

      One of which uses 3 lasers (RGB) and a single mirror directly project the image.

      The other, which I'm fuzzy on, claims to use DLP, and presumably a bulb of some sort.
  • Old news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by odin84gk (1162545) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @10:29AM (#22930510)
    I will believe it when I see it at Best Buy.

    This has been out there since 2007 http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/08/hands-on-with-microvisions-itty-bitty-projector/ [engadget.com]

    And even in 2006. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/06/70942 [wired.com]

  • no other way to get all those half-bit movies that are being released into that small amount of memory, except using half-bit encoding.

    only problem is, the tiny projectors play 'em half-fast.
  • Help me Obi-wan Kenobi you're my only hope.
    • A projector for a flat surface in that size is easy. The high-tech is creating the 3-D screen in midair and only illuminating the selected parts.

      (Holograms won't do it: You can only see the floating image if the hologram, a mirror giving you an image of the hologram, or a diffuser that is already encoded into the hologram, is in the line-of-sight to every pixel.)

      • by AJWM (19027)
        The high-tech is creating the 3-D screen in midair and only illuminating the selected parts.

        That's where the smoke comes in, as in "it's all done with smoke and mirrors". Although water fog from one of those small ultrasonic foggers is used instead of smoke. For a better image, the water is doped with fluorescent dyes that need activation by two separate UV frequencies to light up; use two projectors and you can light up the voxels (3D pixels) at specific locations in the fog.
  • I have a very powerful laser pointer. If someone's using one of these projectors annoyingly in public, I will just zap all over their picture. Perhaps from hundreds of feet away.

    If they try to get tough, I'll just dial the laser up to "stun".
  • bugger that. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @11:40AM (#22931072)
    bugger that.

    what I want is its big brother that can project HD image on the opposite wall, bright enough for normal viewing and about the size of a large book so I can hide it in the bookshelves on one side of the room and have a discreet drop down on the other. a small wireless remote could control the whole shebang.

    or maybe what I want is the projector built into the lid or case of my laptop so I can project an image for 21" use in my hotel room or presentation, why would I want to carry another gadget?

    or maybe I want the low resolution table top clock that can also project information, headlines, travel and weather onto my bedroom ceiling on a spoken command.

    perhaps I want the discreet projector that can shine instructions or notes onto the smoked glass door in my hi tech corporate office. or airport. or train station.

    why would I not want my sat nav to project onto my windscreen HUD like and stop me dangerously craning my neck to look at a 3" screen when I should be driving. while its at it, it can show key dashboard information as well.

    what I absolutely do *not* need is a phone that can project images when hooked up to a matchbox - its a phone, thats all.

    I like the tech, I really do - but I think they could do more with it!

    anybody else got any cool ideas about what to do with a dinky little laser projector........?

    • I'll take the glasses that let me see computer annotations on the world around me, while leaving everybody else unaware of them.

      I don't recall the name of the company. But they're being made in Israel. For a couple years the FAA has working with prototypes for air traffic ground controllers - so they can look out of the tower at the planes and see the annotations - and images of the planes and runways themselves in a solid fog.

      The lens has near-planes (slightly curved) of refractive-index discontinuities
  • One more company (Score:2, Informative)

    by shas3n (1121469)
    There is one more company that is making these and apparently they did a demo in CES this year.
    See here http://www.lightblueoptics.com/ [lightblueoptics.com] They have a nice set of 'artists impression' of their applications !
  • I've been watching this develop and waiting for these to become commercially available for a few years now. Not because I want one, I don't. I want salespeople to buy them in droves, because it will shift the focus (heh) of more traditional digital projectors towards the home theatre market. I don't care if you can fit the projector in a briefcase. I want a good picture from a quiet projector at a reasonable price. If it's the size of a refrigerator, but it costs $50 and the bulbs are $10..? sold.
  • .. I should have patented this when I thought of it.. of course it is so obvious.. rather than have a large screen on a device, put a small projector in it and then you can have as large as screen as you can a surface..

    Imagine taking a nokia N810 and adding a projector in it. Add a usb hub for a little larger keyboard and a mouse and you can have an ultra portable desktop anywhere. Just add white surface.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:06PM (#22931868) Homepage

    Here's the company site. [microvision.com] No mention of battery life issues.

    This thing is a one-pixel display being scanned in 2D by a MEMS mirror. One pixel scanned displays have been tried before, and they're usually annoying. One of the neat things about LCD displays, plasma panels, and TI DLP mirror systems is that there's no flicker at all, because the display has full persistence. This brings back flicker, big time; all the persistence is in the eye. This idea has been tried before, in bigger displays, and abandoned. So this isn't going to look great, but it will have niche uses.

    Brightness is 10 lumens, incidentally.

    • Here's the company site. No mention of battery life issues.

      The first Microvision protoype is roughly the size of an ipod. Most of that space is battery. The company claims about 1.5 hours use, but claims future iterations will be up to 40% more efficient.

  • so where is my damned "Zardoz" ring?
  • And this is exactly the kind of device that needs 10x more battery life than our best batteries, and 10x more efficient light output for bulbs.

    Roll on radioactive batteries is what I say.
  • As if it weren't annoying enough to go to a theater and have people shine their laser pointers on the screen, now they'll be sitting down front and showing You Tube, p0rn, their MySpace or other crap during the movie to annoy us.

    Likewise cell phones, MP3 players and personal video players seem to be rampantly used in public by jerks who wish to annoy others with their conversation, music or video. Now we'll get to put up with projections. Of course, when you ask them to stop due to decency or courtesy, the

    • by CompMD (522020)
      I, for one, will be proposing an ordinance at my next city commission meeting that would authorize the concealed carry of a hammer or mallet for the purpose of bludgeoning, smashing, or otherwise destroying these devices when used as a nuisance in public places. Ownership of the projector in this city will provide implicit acceptance of this ordinance, and should the projector owner resist your attempts to smash his projector, you will be permitted to smash the owner of the projector. Problem solved. :)
  • The Cure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @02:47PM (#22933024)
    If someone starts annoying me on a bus or plane with small projected images distracting me, I see no reason why I should not then start demonstration of the awesome art of shadow puppetry until they desist.

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