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Displays Portables Hardware

A Widescreen Laser Projector In Your Pocket 189

Posted by timothy
from the so-very-happy-to-see-you dept.
Edis Krad writes "Redmond based company Microvision is in the last stages of developing and releasing a portable, laser-based projector, code-named 'Show WX.' The projector has a resolution of 848 by 400 pixels (WVGA) and, since it uses laser-scanning rather than LCD to form the images, it does not require a lens to focus, allowing it to display images virtually in any surface. The device comes with its own user-replaceable battery, which means you could take it with you anywhere you want. Although there is no pricing information on their website, according to this local news video, it could cost at least $200."
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A Widescreen Laser Projector In Your Pocket

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  • And project an image of my ass onto a car window as I pass someone?

    Because you're sitting on a goldmine if it can.

    What? It can't? *sigh* Oh well. A man can dream, can't he? A man can dream ...
  • Or... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sobieski (1032500) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:42PM (#28115733)

    Are you just happy to see me?

  • by al0ha (1262684) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:43PM (#28115757) Journal
    $400 to $500 USD according to the manufacturer site; not $200. Dang, $200 would have been awesome.
    • by madfgurtbn (321041) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:01PM (#28116059)

      Dang, $200 would have been awesome.

      It should get there, in a couple years. The reason it will be so expensive to start with is two new technologies in one: Scanning MEMS mirror which projects the image, and the green lasers inside, which have not been produced before.

      Microvision has been waiting for green laser supplier for a long time. Corning has built a facility and is ramping up production of green lasers now.

      When green lasers are available in quantities of millions, the laser projectors will be built into blackberries, iphones, digital cameras, etc.

      • what's wrong with red lasers?

        • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:34PM (#28116419)

          They don't produce a very good green. Frequency doubled IR is not an option either because you can't modulate the beam fast enough.

          • by madfgurtbn (321041) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:49PM (#28116619)

            Frequency doubled IR is not an option either because you can't modulate the beam fast enough.

            Actually, the Corning green lasers in the ShowWX are freq doubled. True green is not expected for several years at least. More on the Corning lasers here [forbes.com].

            • Guess it only used to be a problem then ... although the proof is in the pudding of course.

              • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

                Guess it only used to be a problem then ... although the proof is in the pudding of course.

                It makes *pudding*, too?! Jesus Christ, sign me up for one of those bad boys!

                I hope it has a Butterscotch mode...

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by BigPeen (1357715)
              I work on long wavelength InGaN (green) lasers. They're at least a year away from being delveloped in the lab, and probably another year from production.
      • by vikstar (615372)

        Green laser pointers have been around for years, how are they different to the ones that are used in these projectors?

    • by WarlockD (623872) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:10PM (#28116167)
      $400-$500 IS awesome! God do you know how much bulbs cost for even the "cheap" projectors? Hell, even if you WANT to get a bulb, try to get one for just a 4 year old projector. Its worst than god damn ink cartridges.

      Its why I have been looking at the LED based ones, but they are just not bright enough for my purposes. Give me one of these with just a 10k laser life AND an HD out? I am as good as sold.
  • Meetings (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XPeter (1429763) *

    This could be very useful in the cooperate world. Instead of dragging around charts projectors and things alike; have this nifty device in your pocket and your presentation is ready.

    • Re:Meetings (Score:5, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:17PM (#28116253) Homepage
      NoNoNoNO!!! Bad Xpeter, Bad boy. Do you realize how fucking annoying this is going to be? PowerPoint presentations everywhere. Is that the kind of world you want to grow up in?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Daengbo (523424)

        I was thinking along the lines of "Cool! Pocket porn projector!."

      • Now nerds can communicate with girls in a structured manner.
        Just Imagine:

        *** Start power point presentation ***
        Slide 1:
        Objective - To go out on date

        Slide 2:
        Reasons -
        - Have money
        - Provide intelligent conversation
        - Will Listen

        Slide 3:
        Places -
        - Movies
        - Beach

        .....

        'Hey wait, where are you going?'

        *** End power point presentation ***
    • by sznupi (719324)

      I'd argue there's more to making a presentation that simply available technology.

      Sadly, the amount of horrible Powerpoint presentations one has to witness in this world means my views are not very common... (at least at the point when average person, bored during presentation while on the audience, has to be a presenter and simply uses Powerpoint as a cheat-sheet)

  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Penguinshit (591885) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:50PM (#28115861) Homepage Journal
    Now I can project even more realistic UFOs on low clouds near the airport!
  • Laser projector? How can you project a raster image using a inherently vector system?

    I don't get it. How does it know how big the pixels should be?

    (Or maybe it's obvious and I just need a beating with the clue stick here)

    • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:54PM (#28115927)
      Rotating or oscillating mirrors to cause the beam to scan, similar to what laser barcode scanners use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      Think: CRTs use an electron beam ... maybe you can figure the rest out all by yourself.

      • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:24PM (#28116323) Homepage

        CRT's project an electron beam into a fixed-size phosphor pixel on the screen. This is projecting a laser dot onto a wall (or whatever), I was mostly just not sure how you get an image instead of just a series of lines appearing.

        • by megaditto (982598)

          Convex mirrors would do it.

          You pretty much don't want a perfectly collimated beam coming out because of all the safety and health regulations. Since this projector's lasers would have power on the order of tens of watts, you would get nice burns in your retina the moment a scanning mirror fails.

          I am still not sure how they would stop people losing eyesight by staring up close into the beam...

          • by timeOday (582209)

            I am still not sure how they would stop people losing eyesight by staring up close into the beam...

            I can buy a propane torch for $10 [hardwareworld.com] and I wouldn't want to stare up close into that while it's lit. My 10-year-old bought a bb gun at Walmart and it certainly isn't eye-safe.

            My question is how they prevent it from flickering badly, since (unlike phosphors in a TV) there is no persistence from a projector screen. Seems like you'd need an extremely fast refresh rate, perhaps displaying each frame 4 times or

        • by evilviper (135110)

          CRT's project an electron beam into a fixed-size phosphor pixel on the screen.

          Only with color TVs is there any semblance of a "dot" of any kind, due to the method used to produce different colors. B&W TVs don't have any notion of "dots"

        • Actually CRTs just blast the beam to the screen segment, which will often reach a few holes in the shadow mask. This will often limit the "resolution" as it will become more blurry the smaller you go, but there isn't a fixed size. And they only need the shadow mask to seperate the colors, black and white CRTs don't have them.
          And aperture grill CRTs are completely free regarding vertical scanning resolution.

        • Go back in time a bit and think about monochrome CRTs. These projected an electron beam on to a sheet of phosphor-covered glass. Now look at CRT projectors. They do exactly the same thing, with three glass screens, and the light shines on to the screen.

          Remember that the laser dot isn't a point in the mathematical sense. It has size. Move it from left to right quickly and you get a line drawn (with help from persistence of vision) and when you move it down a bit and draw another line underneath, you ge

        • by SharpFang (651121)

          Only color TVs which need to aim at a pixel of given color.

          Think back to b&w TVs which had no pixels. Extinguish the beam on pixels you don't want lit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by acrobg (1175095)
      My guess would be that it projects as three scanning lasers: for red, green, and blue. Because they would be scanning across, the field of view as the beams of light move away from projector gets larger (hence larger projection at a larger distance). However, it also gets dimmer, meaning a 12" projection distance will havea brighter image than a 100" projection distance. Also, if you're projecting closer, it looks like it will have more definition to the image as well. Not that the pixel-count will chan
    • by ab8ten (551673)

      Laser projector? How can you project a raster image using a inherently vector system?

      I don't get it. How does it know how big the pixels should be?

      (Or maybe it's obvious and I just need a beating with the clue stick here)

      The light from the three RGB lasers is scanned in rows just like the electron beam in a CRT. To sweep the angle, a tiny mirror flexes very fast. The technical challenge for these projectors has been switching the mirror fast enough and getting decent performance from miniature red green and blue lasers. I think the blue one was the tough nut to crack.

    • by serutan (259622)

      You know how a TV tube works? The electron beam sweeps back and forth really fast, painting each dot on the screen? Well the laser in this thing is like the beam and the wall is like the screen. Since the laser beam can travel a great distance and still make just a small dot, so the image are in focus at different distances. Of course the farther away the screen is, the farther apart the dots are, so the image would become grainy at some point.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If the beam diffusion angle or wtfever it is called (I am not a physicist, mathematician, etc, sorry) can be sufficiently tuned the dots never get further away from each other; in fact, they might even overlap. They will be spread out, though, so they will get dimmer.

        This seems like a pretty decent way to get full HD at home.

    • by Myriad (89793) * <myriad@thebOPENBSDsod.com minus bsd> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:04PM (#28116117) Homepage

      This has been done before, IIRC Samsung released one of the first TV quality raster scanning system for laser shows.

      Basically a standard laser show setup uses multiple lasers (to get your RGB) combined into a single beam then passed through a device, such as a PCAOM, which acts as rather like a programmable colour filter. (this isn't the only way it can be done with solid state lasers).

      Two sets of mirrors can be steered in the X and Y axis to draw your shapes, beam effects, etc.

      In the case of a TV or other raster displays the beam is steered much like you would an electron beam on a regular TV. It scans a horizontal line, moves down scans across, repeat. You can switch the direction of the scan (left to right, then right to left) on alternating lines to speed up the scan rate.

      Wikipedia has some info on Laser TV's in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_TV [wikipedia.org] and LaserFX has some info on PCAOM's if you're interested in the older tech: http://www.laserfx.com/Backstage.LaserFX.com/Archives/Archives6.html [laserfx.com]

      Early systems actually used multiple projectors overlapping or drawing the first 3rd, 2nd third, etc of the image to make up for slower scan rates.

      • by Bob-taro (996889)

        This has been done before, IIRC Samsung released one of the first TV quality raster scanning system for laser shows.

        It has also been done with electron beams in arcane devices known as CRTs.

      • This one fits in your pocket, and is happy to see you.
    • I don't know what they're doing, but I see two possibilities.
      One is raster scan, which others have mentioned, which involves moving mirrors and modulating the lasers. I've been told this is not practical due to the physical difficulties of controlling fast moving mirrors. (But this advice is 20 years old.)
      The other is the Texas Instruments micromirror approach. The laser beam is diverged to cover the whole mirror chip, and individual micromirror movements modulate each pixel.
  • Great for bedtime (Score:5, Interesting)

    by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:57PM (#28115997) Homepage

    Project a movie or an e-book on your ceiling. No more tired arms from holding books up. I'm getting one of these babies!

  • mini laser projector + netbook = crazy disco scene that can fit in your pocket. whip it out on the subway on friday night with some dance techno and colorful visualizations to have the swingin'est ride to the bar ever.

    • winamp the 1.04 milkdrop and the 3d presets

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Oh, Lords of Kobol, please make it stop!

      (not sure how popular it is at your place, but recently teens here on the stupid side of bell curve tend to listen as loud as possible to crap music on crap loudspeakers of their cellphones while walking on the street/etc.)

    • They exist people who don't care to party all night long. I am sure after coming home from a long day of work and some dude turns your subway in to a rave, you will find someone "accidentally" smashing it.

  • Vaporware. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Craig Davison (37723) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:02PM (#28116091)

    There's no price, and demo of this thing working, because it doesn't exist yet. But they do have CG mockups in 10 different colors!

    • I spoke too soon (Score:3, Informative)

      by Craig Davison (37723)

      Here's a video from dl.tv: http://dl.tv/2008/01/ces_2008_microvision_show_proj.php [dl.tv]

      There's no mention of battery life, and it looks like the framerate might be terrible, but it's a real product!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by modecx (130548)

        it looks like the framerate might be terrible

        I'm sure the framerate is just fine. The problem is: the camera isn't in synced with the display's scan rate, and 2) lasers can turn on and off (go from full off to full on) a HELL of a lot faster than anything on usual display devices. (phosphors in a CRT unload their photons over a longer period of time, LCDs switch slower, etc) I imagine the real scan rate is actually has to be higher than 75 hz, just because of that phenomena, either that or they have to have

    • Re:Vaporware. (Score:5, Informative)

      by anomnomnomymous (1321267) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:26PM (#28116349)
      Check the Buzz section [microvision.com] of the site: So much for your vaporware...
    • by Zerth (26112)

      That's normal for Microvision. I don't think they've ever actually released a consumer product. I'm still waiting for their super-tiny hi-res wearable displays from circa 1998.

  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:02PM (#28116093)

    ... are the two limitations of small projectors. They claim 10 lumens while most conventional mains-powered projectors are typically 1000-2000 lumens. That makes the product usable alone in a darkened room but not much of anywhere else. Their claim of "movie capable" battery life rather than a specific time period leads me to conclude that they watch shorter than average movies.

    I predict that, like the pen scanner, [planon.com] this proves to be a geeky cool but practically useless device.

    • by j1mmy (43634) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:23PM (#28116319) Journal

      The trade-off is performance vs size. You can take this thing anywhere and you don't need to plug it in to the wall.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Hm, need for a "darkened room"...that could actually be an advantage when inviting somebody for moviewatching ;p

      (yes, I eagerly await lower prices, hopefully by this Autumn, on DLP (or what was the name of that TI micromirror technology) based miniprojectors)

      • DLP picoprojectors are already pretty cheap, the problem is that it still needs to be setup like a traditional projector because it uses projecting optics ... whereas with a laser projector it's easy to project in focus on any surface from any angle (although you would need programmable keystone correction to make the most of that).

  • Summary is Wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by phreakhead (881388) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:03PM (#28116103) Homepage

    It's called the SHOW WX, not SHOW WV. FTFA: "WX stands for "wide experience", referring to the wide image format, wide color range and wide always in-focus operation."

    As a VJ, I could really use one of these instead of hauling around my huge HD projector, since I only project at 320x240 anyway (to keep real-time video mixing fast). Hopefully the battery really lasts as long as a movie though!

    • by Chitlenz (184283)

      Man no kidding, we're just buying a second projector to play out with (we as a 3 man crew mix Dnb and psytrance) after the first one fried. A pocketsized projector that matches the lazers? Totally win, even at 500$. I remember seeing really cool demos done with lazer projection and fog machines too. I wonder what one of these looks like through haze.

  • when the resolution is at least 1024 wide (1280 preferable) and it can project with more than 10 lumens of light! (Their Macromedia Flash demo thing on the website is waaaaaay optimistic about how bright it will look). The slashvertisement site "specs" also conveniently leaves off critical information such as what resolutions it can accept (and downscale), what types of cables are included, what type of battery and real estimates of battery life, exactly how much power does it pull (can you operate it liv

  • Sharks (Score:2, Funny)

    by CrashandDie (1114135)
    Sharks with Freakin' lasers attached to their heads!
  • by mkro (644055)
    The Youtube video was posted January 12, 2008 :\
    • When?

      First small quantities of the accessory projector are promised "this summer". Embedded in phones about a year after, as green lasers become available in large quantities.

  • Can I get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:46PM (#28116567) Homepage

    In 1080p and capable of 120hz refresh rate?

    ???

    • Just add a few extra zeros to the price. Five should cover it, but you might want to have that sixth zero in reserve for contingency. :-)

  • Better Microvision than Macrovision [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LordSnooty (853791)
      Their version works just as well but er... it turns to snow if you don't point it at a fully licensed wall. (sorry)
  • It's is SO going into an iPhone in 2 or 3 years. From that point on consider this : people use the motion sensor to stabilise the image, which will be pretty cool, and secondly, people start making a whole bunch of iPhone apps to make all sorts of "pranks".

    Hard to tell what they'll come up with but you just know that kids will have a field day with that. And by day I mean decade.

  • I heard from a friend who works at a cinema, that some years ago, they tried to build laser projectors. They were incredibly sharp and brilliant. So brilliant in fact, that the viewers got their faces painfully burned. (Dunno if just from passing by. Or from looking at it, which would mean their eyes got damaged too.)

    It may only be an anecdote. But I do not trust these things. ^^

    Oh, and with the massive parallelism of LCD and DLP displays, I was happy for the not very healthy flickering of line-scan display

    • DLPs do flicker (as do plasma displays). It's just at a high enough frequency you don't notice.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by radoni (267396)

      I do work at a cinema. Your "friend" is talking fantasy. The standard for years past and years to come is and will continue to be Film. Who would have access to a full color movie-capable scanning laser projection system? I can find no evidence to support the claim that any audience in cinematic history has had their faces BURNED from laser projection, not even to say that this has ever existed in a cinema.
      For those curious about what the !@#$ top poster is going on about and how the Microvision scanning la

  • That is not "widescreen". Well, except in contrast to old-style analog television. But by today's standards, that is downright shitty resolution.
  • by dilvish_the_damned (167205) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:23PM (#28118431) Journal

    I see this as the perfect solution. Now all I need is the problem to solve.
    Perhaps if I coupled this with an iPod and beer the problems would present themselves.

  • Don't believe the flash
    don't
    don't
    don't believe the flash

    seriously, 10 lumens, with all lights off in a closet it might be ok...

    OMG!!!

    Portable porn projector!

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