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Cellphones Communications Displays Handhelds Technology

Considering Cheaper Pico-Projectors As Standard Equipment On Cell Phones 146

Posted by timothy
from the beam-it-at-the-wall dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Will pico-projectors become standard equipment on mobile phones, the same way that digital cameras have become? The jury is still out on user acceptance — after all, only four mobile phones use pico-projectors today — but if they get small and cheap enough, mobile phone makers are going to install them. There are four vendors today — Microvision, National Semiconductor, 3M and Texas Instruments — but only TI has design wins in cell phones already on the market. And at the recent Mobile World Congress, TI showed a smaller digital light processor (DLP) chip that fits inside even the slimmest mobile phones, and which it claims is cheap enough to become standard equipment. A lot of us never use the camera in our phones now — would you use a pico-projector if it was built into your phone?"
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Considering Cheaper Pico-Projectors As Standard Equipment On Cell Phones

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  • It needs to be a holographic projector, or don't bother.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:31PM (#31204438)

    Somehow I don't think that a "pico-projector" is one trillionth the size of a regular projector. Asshole marketers.

    • In this case, "pico" refers to brain size.
      Either of the marketeer who coined the term, or the intended customer. Or both.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cvtan (752695)
      Chris Parks, a designer at Eastman Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions, invented the term "marketing physics" to describe ridiculous claims and other violations of physical laws and common sense made by marketing types. The pico-projector name falls in this category.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Somehow I don't think that a "pico-projector" is one trillionth the size of a regular projector. Asshole marketers.

      Their frame of reference was some dude from the marketing department making shadow puppets using the sun.
      When you look at it that way, it all makes sense.
       
      /If you want to be pedantic about it, the scale is closer to 10^-11 than 10^-12

    • "Pico" is also Spanish for "peak," but somehow I don't think that's what the marketroids had in mind!

  • by JBMcB (73720) on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:33PM (#31204450)

    How about a wireless projecter, the size of a deck of cards, with built-in wireless USB and/or bluetooth? Then you can use it with nearly anything, the way wi-fi projectors work now.

    Besides, if you're playing a video with your phone, what if you want to then take a phone call?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How about a wireless projecter, the size of a deck of cards, with built-in wireless USB and/or bluetooth? Then you can use it with nearly anything, the way wi-fi projectors work now.

      Besides, if you're playing a video with your phone, what if you want to then take a phone call?

      Then I guess you're fucked. GAME OVER MAN! You hear that screaming in the distance? That's people who tried to project and then somebody called. Let that be a lesson. DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zerth (26112)

      How about a wireless projecter, the size of a deck of cards, with built-in wireless USB and/or bluetooth? Then you can use it with nearly anything, the way wi-fi projectors work now.

      That's what I want. Pretty much any projector that can fit in a phone without bulking it up is probably too faint or too draining to use for any serious purpose. I want something that can last a few hours, but still be bright enough to use with the lights on, or only slightly dimmed.

      • by arielCo (995647)
        (posting to revert wrong mod)
      • The size isn't really an issue when it comes to brightness. A modern LED can provide as much light as the bulb in my projector (which is usable for most of the day, but not with direct sunlight on the screen). The LED would draw 11-20W, depending on the technology used. That's about the amount that a laptop display uses, so it's not impossible but it's a bit much for something the size of a mobile phone. On the other hand, the amount of light that you need is proportional to the area of the screen. If

        • by Zerth (26112)

          That's kind of my point, if it fits in a cellphone then either it will kill the battery, or it will be limited in brightness so as not to kill the battery.

          I'm fine with 800x600 myself and I don't usually need anything larger than 24". Frequently just 10" would work, as I mainly want a laptop screen replacement(it being one of the last easily breakable parts) so I could just carry around the keyboard half.

          Mixing it up with a camera to do a wearable projectable touch display, with the computer still in a bag

    • You're right; it only makes sense to combine camera and phone because they both require a screen and some sort of interactive interface. A basic projector just needs a jack (or wireless) and a power button. That said, I have no doubt that phone manufacturers will integrate projectors into phones anyway.
      • by b0bby (201198)

        One could argue that it makes sense to combine the phone & projector because a projector needs a battery and content, which is provided by the phone. And if you want to take a call, you use your bluetooth headset, which are pretty ubiquitous now. If they are small & cheap, why not?

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:03PM (#31204952)

      Besides, if you're playing a video with your phone, what if you want to then take a phone call?

      Accept that you either don't use the technology or don't take calls while watching the video?

      Personally I don't have a problem not having access to a phone for a while. People can leave a message. It wasn't 15 years ago that people, I shit you not, left their homes for HOURS AT A TIME without access to a phone. Having this as merely an option isn't going to hurt anyone.

      And it can come in handy. Example: your friend was at a bachelor party that had a stripper. You and the rest of the people at your current party want to know how she looked. Would you rather huddle around his phone to see a picture, or him point it at the nearest wall and project a nice big image?

      Or instead of that if you want to see a play from the latest game.

      OR if you really do want to sit the thing down and play a movie.

      Sure there are times when you wouldn't want to use it. It's certainly not going to replace dedicated projectors anymore than camera phones replaced dedicated cameras, but it can and will have uses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by StikyPad (445176)

        ...or projecting the face of some Hollywood hottie onto that girl or guy you brought home from the bar after last call.

        "Wow, my phone-flashlight really accentuates your eyes. Just try to hold still or it looks like you have two heads. What??? I mean, uh... Look, something shiny!"

      • > Or instead of that if you want to see a play from the latest game.

        Careful. The image had better not be over 55 inches.

        > OR if you really do want to sit the thing down and play a movie.

        Now you're looking for real trouble.

    • by Colin Smith (2679)

      Besides, if you're playing a video with your phone, what if you want to then take a phone call?

      You pause the video?

      You can already get wifi pico projectors and yup, they're about the size of a pack of cards.
       

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Belial6 (794905)
        No, kidding. I don't want to be on the phone with someone who cannot stop watching their video for two minutes anyway. Honestly, the fact that the projector and the phone are integrated would work out well. In the same way that a phone and an MP3 play work out well. When a call comes in, I don't have to pause the music. It pauses for me. Then when I hang up, the music starts back up. This is a good thing, not a problem. Slightly off topic, but also cool is that a program on my Android phone will pau
        • by StikyPad (445176)

          Yeah, nothing like a bunch of people sitting around enjoying a great.. sorry, I've got to take this call.

          I'll finish this post later.

    • by gothzilla (676407)

      My wife loved her portable dvd player till the dog chewed the power cables up. Instead of buying a new one I just learned how to rip and shrink her dvd's so they would play on her LG Xenon. She LOVES IT. Yes, movies stop when a text or call comes in but she just starts the movie again and moves the slider to about where she was.

      Yes she does find it annoying but she prefers it over carting around a portable dvd player.

      When she saw the AT&T commercial for the LG phone with a projector she flipped and dema

  • by CDS (143158) on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:34PM (#31204462)
    No, I wouldn't use one in my phone - but I would ABSOLUTELY use one in my laptop.

    It'd be great to be able to project onto a wall for a spur-of-the-moment code discussion, etc. It seems like every time I'm in a meeting & want to share an idea or code snippet, etc. with the group, it happens to be in an area without a projector. If we could have a picoprojector on the backside of my laptop's LCD, you could project from there whenever you need...
    • by Em Emalb (452530)

      agreed. A projector on a phone is like the male nipple.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by peragrin (659227)

        a product of intelligent design?

        sort of like putting a recreation and reproduction facility right next to a waste water treatment facility?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wait, enjoyable with ice cubes and syrup? I'm confused.

        • by Ipeunipig (934414)
          Syrup would make it sticky. And a sticky phone projector may give off the wrong impression. Especially if one just walked out of the bathroom at work.
    • by Colin Smith (2679)

      It'd be great to be able to project onto a wall for a spur-of-the-moment code discussion, etc. It seems like every time I'm in a meeting & want to share an idea or code snippet, etc. with the group

      My my, don't you have a bushy tail.

       

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386)

      It'd be great to be able to project onto a wall for a spur-of-the-moment code discussion, etc. It seems like every time I'm in a meeting & want to share an idea or code snippet, etc. with the group, it happens to be in an area without a projector. If we could have a picoprojector on the backside of my laptop's LCD, you could project from there whenever you need...

      Before long, you'd be invited to damn few meetings. You might be on to something there...

    • No, I wouldn't use one in my phone - but I would ABSOLUTELY use one in my PDA.

      1.) I'm going to the lab and a co-worker stops me to ask about a hardware issue. There is no Way I can read a schematic on a PDA. But, if I could project it onto a surface, I wouldn't have to go upstairs to my main PC to open the schematic
      2.) I'm sitting on an airplane wanting to watch a movie. Pulling out a laptop is pretty freaking annoying, but this could project it onto the seat in front of me.
      3.) Games. Finally I can play a v

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by meustrus (1588597)
        So, if we were to translate what you're saying out of the 90's, you want a pico projector in your iPhone/Droid/Nexus One/Palm Pre?
  • iP*d (Score:1, Redundant)

    I don't want a projector in my phone. I want my phone to be a phone. Make it a videophone before adding some non-personal-communications projector app.

    I want the projector in my iP*d, or other super-small computing device which IS designed for visual display of information.

  • by FrozenGeek (1219968) on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:36PM (#31204490)
    I don't really care what device I use as a projector. What matters to me is whether the projection is bright enough for my audience to see the projected images clearly. If I can do that from my phone, great (one less piece of equipment to lug around).

    The other question I would ask is whether using my phone as a projector would drain the battery, precluding me using the phone as a phone. A phone with a flat battery is not much use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by be951 (772934)
      Agreed. I think eventually, we will see phones/pocket-sized devices with a "pico" projector and one of these [thinkgeek.com] built in. And as storage gets smaller and chips get more powerful, we will end up with an all-in-one device that can replace laptops/netbooks as well. We already have convergence of phone, digital camera, video camera, PDA, MP3 player, GPS, etc... One of the things that makes the iPad attractive (YMMV) is the larger screen. A pico projector can provide that in a smaller device.
      • The only reason I was thinking of buying that was to turn my older cellphone into a very tiny laptop. Take that projector, attach the phone to it, have a usable stand of battery, done. Phones have as much processing power as older laptops, and with the added resolution you could install linux on it, ignoring shitty phone OSs. You could also use HUD type glasses in lieu of a pico projector if you are going for the startrek TNG look (*obviously not afraid of looking like a nerd*). Figured I could fit it in a
    • by m2shariy (1194621)

      What matters to me is whether the projection is bright enough for my audience to see the projected images clearly.

      Bright enough, providing the projection size is no larger than the cell phone screen.

    • What matters to me is whether the projection is bright enough for my audience to see the projected images clearly.

      The Microvision one is 10 ANSI lumens. No zeros lost there either.

      I wish they'd just get to projecting the cell phone display onto my retina so I could have a smaller phone with a higher res display.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Bring a charger.

  • "A lot of us never use the camera in our phones now -- would you use a pico-projector if it was built into your phone?"

    How does the fact that you don't use the camera in your phone have anything to do with the fact that you would not use a pico-projector? They are two completely different technologies with completely different purposes filling completely different needs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They are two completely different technologies with completely different purposes filling completely different needs.

      You mean sort of like telephones and cameras?

      Actually, I think the logic for a projector in your cellphone is what another poster mentioned earlier, an easy way to display the photos you have taken on your phone to people.

      • "Actually, I think the logic for a projector is... an easy way to display the photos you have taken on your phone to people"

        Why the frick would I want to subject my friends, family and coworkers to a slide-show of my vacation pics?! If that's what you do it explains your nagging doubts as to why you don't have any friends.

        Why anyone would want a projector built into his or her phone (other than a nimrod who subjects friends, family and coworkers to slide-shows of his vacation pics) would be to watch movies

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          You wouldn't. But think about your crazy aunt that takes all the horrible pictures of her nieces and nephews... she's the target demographic.

          • "You wouldn't. But think about your crazy aunt that takes all the horrible pictures of her nieces and nephews... she's the target demographic."

            Shhuudder!

        • I didn't say I wanted that. I rarely even use the camera. I said that I thought that was the logic.
        • by oh2 (520684)
          Sounds to me like a gaming platform. Project the game screeen, use the camera and accelerometer to control the game. Imagine a game like doom where the motion of the cellphone controls where you look.
    • by Itninja (937614)
      Agreed. A camera is an input device. A projector would be an output device. It's like comparing a keyboard with speakers....
  • iPico (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Ukab the Great (87152)

    A projector wouldn't make Pico any more pleasant to use on a cellphone. Plus, you'd get all the DRM activists complaining that they hate Pico and that Apple won't let them projected emacs and vi on their iPhones.

  • Don't projectors of reasonable "cell phone" size generally max out at 11"x17" on a light-colored wall in a dim room? And despite seldom having any use for my phone's camera, I have in the past thought "Gee, it would be really nice if I had a camera right now" (still do sometimes, as I have yet to have a cell phone with a camera that's usable in low light) I've never found myself thinking "Gee, it would be really awesome if I could project an image the size of a smallish poster from my phone!".
    • by Wraithlyn (133796)

      Have you ever wanted to show someone something on your phone?

      Has the size of the tiny screen size ever contributed to a sub-optimal viewing experience?

      This thing would kill for small presentations on-the-go. Of course it's not suitable for a big roomful of people, but it would be fine for a small group sitting close to the display.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idiomatick (976696)
      At lunch maybe you think of something relevant online to the conversation to show people. Maybe it is a [citation needed] situation, maybe some pianist on youtube that you think is awesome. Whipping out a laptop is rarely ok, but a cellphone could work. The cellphone needs to be able to balance standing easily and aim the projector downwards (with some correction to fix the skewing) to allow to you show things on the table. Or to be able to point it at a wall if you want to do so. This would be a powerful u
  • by Ustice (788261)
    I would absolutely use a small projector on my phone. It would be great for sharing info, and would help with augmented reality apps. It also allows you to get outside of the limitations of a tiny screen. You could even use it as a replacement for a screen, and make the phone the shape of a pen that folds out with a screen that the interface gets projected onto. This is the next step, I think.
  • by jwietelmann (1220240) on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:47PM (#31204684)
    would you use a pico-projector if it was built into your phone?

    No. Next question please...

    More seriously though, I'm sure that this would be very useful for a handful of people. It might even be good for the phone makers as a short-term marketing gimmick. I bet a lot of people might initally buy such a phone for the "wow" factor before realizing the limitations.

    The problem is this: Where/when could you use such a device in an effective way? You'd need a screen and/or a blank wall, as well as something close enough to that wall to set your phone on, unless you and your comrades enjoy watching a very wobbly video.

    On the other hand, combined with an accelerometer, a compass, and/or a camera, someone might be able to make a fairly novel application. For example, a game where moving the phone would scroll the projected image, like moving the sights of a gun. (Clearly the game would have to be a little more creative than that, but you get the general idea.)

    • by Wraithlyn (133796)

      Where/when could you use such a device in an effective way? You'd need a screen and/or a blank wall, as well as something close enough to that wall to set your phone on

      So... you'd need a table and a wall. This is hard to find?

      • Why the wall? ... Tables are flat surfaces AFAIK...
      • It's not hard to find, but I'd imagine that in most circumstances where you have those, there's a better option available than a phone-based pico projector for displaying whatever it is that you want to display.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Orbijx (1208864) *

      Where/when could you use such a device in an effective way?

      Hello from a tourist trap city in Florida!
      I've been asked for directions many a time by someone who's new to the area, or just traveling through.

      I'd have loved to be able to show them a map of how to get to there from here, and know that they can see it. Squinting at a small screen to visualize directions isn't likely to be as effective as projecting a map on the back of a tray at a local Subway.

      I can say something like:
      "Take Busch to 56th, turn right. Take 56th to Hillsborough, turn left. Take Hillsborough

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Spazntwich (208070)

      You actually raise an interesting alternate point by mentioning both cameras and accelerometers.

      Consumer grade digital cameras already have image stabilization that works to some degree. It likely wouldn't be a stretch to apply that tech to the picoprojector. Stick the "bulb" or whatever on a ball and socket joint then using accelerometer input and camera input (like an optical mouse, say), use it to display a fairly consistently placed image, barring extreme changes in orientation.

      I think enabling use of t

  • It all depends on what Steve Jobs likes.

  • .. is, by in large, they're shite.

    I suspect the pico-projector will suffer the same fate. Not good enough to be anything more than an executive toy.

  • I'd rather have some kind of standard video port (probably via a dongle for size reasons), so that I can connect my phone to a computer screen or TV or projector (pico or not) as I feel the need. And a pico projector on the side, which I may use with my phone or with my netbook, but I don't think I'll use that a lot.

    There could be some specialty phones with an integrated pico projector, but that doesn't sound like a basic feature to me.

    • Like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bOD17rMSKI [youtube.com] ? This seems like it is pretty standard with latest phones.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      BY 'dongle' do you mean Blue Tooth? cause that exists.

      • I was thinking more of an adapter cable to transform a proprietary (and very small) connector on the phone to a (larger) vga, hdmi or dvi one.

        bluetooth could work in theory. Are you sure it has enough reliable bandwidth though ?

        I failed to google up anything, apart form the sony-ericsson mmv-200, which seems discontinued. $110, max res 704x576 (which is not bad). It was kinda big though, did not run on battery, and was 1 more box to carry around, definitely not usb-dongle sized.

        I'd be interested in any info

  • by killmenow (184444)
    It's kind of difficult to pretend to be working during meetings while actually watching internet porn on my phone if I'm watching it by projecting it life-size on a wall.
  • No connection to the product, but this fake geek unboxing [youtube.com] for the LG Expo ( projector phone ) was kind of amusing.

  • by HikingStick (878216) <<z01riemer> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:01PM (#31204914)
    And people thought sexting was bad with just those cell phone LCDs.
  • I use a cell phone for 3 purposes.

    1. Talking

    2. Texting when I can't talk (like brief and infrequent messages to my wife while at work)

    3. Sudoku while I'm on the toilet

    I have no need nor desire to have a camera, web browser, or projector on my phone. No thank you.

  • Before we worry about projectors, how about we get forward facing cameras on our phone for video Skype. It is already a pretty common feature on Japanese phones.

    • Hmm, I have a cheap Nokia 3120 classic [wikipedia.org] and it has a forward facing VGA camera for video conversations (in addition to the higher resolution camera on the back). I thought such features were standard nowadays as this phone belongs in the cheapo category.
  • Yes. Until my battery runs dead.
  • From what I've seen they're low-res, dim and no better than a nice big touch screen for showing content.

  • Tricorders. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:25PM (#31205224)

    I know Star Trek has fallen from popular attention, but these cell phone things are becoming more and more like the kind of gear we collectively envision "Future People" walking around with.

    It's interesting, though, that our imaginary selves are interested in exploration, and their portable technology was tuned to that, (probing and measuring the environment), whereas our devices seem to be more about insulating people from reality. (Headphones and music and videos and games, etc.)

    In Star Trek they were too busy having adventures to spend much time in Fantasy Lad.

    The question of one's state of bondage can be determined by a quick assessment of one's collection of iPhone apps.

    -FL

    • It's interesting, though, that our imaginary selves are interested in exploration, and their portable technology was tuned to that, (probing and measuring the environment)

      Unlike Star Trek however, we don't need a Tricorder to explore Earth as it's already been reviewed at the most basic of levels. For in-depth analysis of the weather, geophysics, traffic reports...etc, we already have specialized equipment for that. No need to reinvent the wheel of exploration when you can simply use your cell phone to tap

      • You may see it as bondage, but for some it's a sought after escape from reality.

        That's my point, though. What in reality is so horrible that it needs to be escaped from?

        If, however, one's gizmo is tricked out with tools rather than drugs, then it implies that s/he is happily engaged in the real world.

        It's not a blanket statement or a hard and fast rule. Just one of those squishy observations engineers sometimes find disagreeable but which are useful nonetheless.

        -FL

  • Everyone I know has a camera of some sort, and most use the camera in their phones from time to time when they don't have a real camera with them. With the exception of people who do presentations or commercial training I know ONE person who owns a projector.

    So I don't think there is a big demand for super dim, hard to hold steady, low res, battery killing projectors that you can carry in your pocket. The cell phone is turning into the digital swiss army knife. The mini projector might belong on a s
    • by geekoid (135745)

      The exact same thing was said about putting cameras in phones 12 years ago

      "The cell phone is turning into the digital swiss army knife."
      I hope you realize that's a compliment? At least anyone who uses a swiss army knife regularly would think so.

      Put more gadget into the phone. I want to get to the point where ALL I have to carry is a secure device the size of my G1.

      Some of the new "pico/Micro" projectors I have seen are surprising bright.

      • by ukemike (956477)
        My point wasn't that the swiss-army-cellphone is a bad idea, but that the projector was something like the divot replacer on certain golf oriented swiss-army knives. It is a tool with limited and specialized appeal. A camera is a great idea and has wide appeal, just like an internet browser, mapping software, or music player.
  • This phone already exists. At least, the following web page suggests very strongly that it exists, but YMMV...

    http://www.pomegranatephone.com/ [pomegranatephone.com]

  • Could be in the middle of the path to get to SixthSense [ted.com] technology to phones. But if it even works to get a bigger screen for the phone (i.e. to see a movie in a wall instead of in a tiny phone screen) could have some sense.
  • I think the notion of a built in project is great. However I really cannot understand why they're designing them so bloody thick just to accommodate the projector chip. The ones that the TI guy was showing off were fairly wide but actually quite thin. I think it would make far more sense to simply have the projector chip lay flat just like the camera chip but have the ability to "pop-up" and be adjustable to different angles. That way not only do you enable the phone to remain nice and thin, but you als
    • > I really cannot understand why they're designing them so bloody thick
      > just to accommodate the projector chip.

      Complete WAG -- maybe the DLP chips need a bright light source behind them?

  • I'm waiting for these SVGA resolution, focus free [syndiant.com] projectors before I jump on the bandwagon.
  • Obviously the killer app for mobile handset projectors is direct projection onto the user's retina, perhaps aided by adaptive calibration using cams and ultrasound to detect ocular motions/sacaddes,slow pursuits and to respond to them both in real time and in anticipation. I expect eventually this will be on a bunch of phones for 2-3 years but many will disregard it as pointless and most will ignore it or simply be utterly oblivious to it until Apple releases a phone using this technology and dropping a mas

  • There too useful not to. From showing a group something on the device, to needing a bigger view of a map, to new types of games, and boardroom meetings.

    I even imagine using it to share information by having on device see whats on the other is projecting creating a new type of AR.

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