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Microvision's tiny video projector wows Macworld attendees

post #1 of 21
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While Apple demonstrated some cool new technologies in its consumer software packages, one of the most impressive new technology introductions at Macworld Expo was hidden away in Moscone Center's North Hall: a tiny video projector the size of an iPhone.

The highly mobile new projector was developed by Microvision, based on a new video projection technology called PicoP. Unlike existing display technologies such as Texas Instrument's DLP, which uses micro-mirrors, a high powered lamp, and a relatively large color wheel, Microvision's new PicoP uses three primary color lasers and a single aiming mirror.

The result is a highly compact projection engine that the company hopes to eventually embed into a mobile phone. The functional prototype device the company was showing paired the tiny engine (lower right black unit in photo) inside an iPhone-sized package (left unit) housing a rechargeable battery and its supporting video circuitry.

The device projects a ten lumen video picture, which is rapidly drawn right to left in successive lines similar to the beam of a CRT, but without the tube. Even in bright show lighting, the tiny unit could cast a bright, clear, and vibrant video picture from a standard iPod Nano, using Apple's regular video output cables.





The device's ten lumen picture sounds very low compared to the commonly 1000 lumen images projected by bulb-based projectors, but that also means the device uses much less power and doesn't require expensive bulbs that require a cool down cycle. In the video (below), a scan line is visible due to the shutter speed of the camera; in person, the video appears flicker free.



Microvision's prototype can use either a composite video or RGB video input at standard definition WVGA video resolution (edit: 848x480; originally reported here as 640x480), optionally displayed in a 16:9 wide aspect ratio. The battery is rated for 2 hours, and the focus-free unit can project a picture up to about 100 inches diagonal.

The unit is expected to be available for purchase this summer in limited quantities in the $500 price range. Microvision isn't planning to compete against existing video projection technologies used in home theater, but rather intends to open up a new market for highly mobile video projection, selling both small devices like the prototype on display as well as inking deals with hardware manufacturers to install projection into their mobile devices.

Fitting the PicoP engine into a future iPod or iPhone model could dramatically change how consumers experience video, and greatly simplify business presentations by doing away with all the cables and devices. Microvision has more details on its website.
post #2 of 21
That looks really nice. I'd purchase one.

I hope they'll also have a nice stand to set it on.
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post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Microvision's prototype can use either a composite video or RGB video input at standard definition WVGA video resolution (640 x 480), optionally displayed in a 16:9 wide aspect ratio.

The unit is expected to be available for purchase this summer in limited quantities in the $500 price range.

WVGA is 800 by 480 and VGA is 640 by 480. So Which is it? Also, who would pay $500 for 10 lumens 640 x 480? This is a toy at best.
post #4 of 21
Whatever... the Pomegranate Phone already has a projector :P LOL

http://www.pomegranatephone.com/
post #5 of 21
Very interesting. Would certainly solve the problem of the iPhone's screen being rather small for movies.
post #6 of 21
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

WVGA is 800 by 480 and VGA is 640 by 480. So Which is it? Also, who would pay $500 for 10 lumens 640 x 480? This is a toy at best.

Its a glorified lazer pointer.
post #8 of 21
Hmm... projected screen... projected keyboard with finger positioning sensors... hey, that next iteration of the MacBook Air might just be that... Air!

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post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

WVGA is 800 by 480 and VGA is 640 by 480. So Which is it? Also, who would pay $500 for 10 lumens 640 x 480? This is a toy at best.

This is first-generation, remember. I suspect it will come into a solid niche in time.
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post #10 of 21
Its 10 lumens, but since its a laser it actually looks as bright as the 100 lumens because they don't waste any light that's not projecting onto the screen.

I've seen one of these in person and it was easy to watch at a couple of feet in a bright room. When in dim light you could blow the image up to nice big-screen tv sizes without any problems.
post #11 of 21
Will change the landscape of advertising once it's developed better.
Sidewalks and buildings will be home to guerrilla marketing. Any surface for that matter.

It's hot... i like it.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantum7 View Post

Its 10 lumens, but since its a laser it actually looks as bright as the 100 lumens because they don't waste any light that's not projecting onto the screen.

Correct. Also the human visual system is especially responsive to the highly saturated/pure colors lasers produce, known as the Helmholz-Kohlrausch effect, so this also affects the apparent brightness of such a display, providing "up to a 50% boost to apparent brightness" compared to conventional light sources. Furthermore, a higher-powered device might contravene safety best practices for scanned laser displays.

P.S. There's actually a fairly accurate demo of what you can expect it to look like in real life on their website.
P.P.S. Even better, you can see the actual device in action here.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

OQO model 2+

Yep, darn seckseh that one is. It'd be a nice upgrade from my ancient Zaurus

Quote:
With VGA port for video-out, true Ethernet and true Firewire ports.

VGA out? Eww...Make it DVI, at least, and we've got ourselves a winner. Ethernet is cool. 802.11n is cooler. And firewire? I suppose. Personally, I'd like eSATA, but that's more of a long-shot.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

WVGA is 800 by 480 and VGA is 640 by 480. So Which is it? Also, who would pay $500 for 10 lumens 640 x 480? This is a toy at best.

I have mixed feelings:

1. Re: your comment. My first generation digital camera couldn't do more than 640x480. You can't be like my high school photography teacher who as much as I kept insisting the technology would improve and take over, refused to see it. I wasn't using it for class, I was just demonstrating it - I had an old SLR for class. Now look at today's digital cameras. This too is first generation, keep that in mind. 3M and others are working on similar devices.

2. I hold feelings of considerable anger and disappointment towards an employee of Microvision and while what this person did is not Microvision's fault, I feel that horrible desire to see them fail. Awful to say I know. It is a long story. But I'm not perfect, I'm human.
post #15 of 21
Is the conversion into qt movie or into pdf still the only option available to present directly from iphone? No Keynote Lite in view? No good... \

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post #16 of 21
I'm assuming that the picture described is the standard video out that you'd get with Apple's cables or is there more to it? As someone involved in training and documentation of things iPhone and iPod touch, I continue to envy what Apple uses on stage to project the entire UI.

Whomever figures out how to replicate that functionality will get my business for a number of them.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

Will change the landscape of advertising once it's developed better.
Sidewalks and buildings will be home to guerrilla marketing. Any surface for that matter.

It's hot... i like it.

http://picounderground.com/
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

WVGA is 800 by 480 and VGA is 640 by 480. So Which is it? Also, who would pay $500 for 10 lumens 640 x 480? This is a toy at best.

Microvision PicoP resolution = WVGA (848 x 480)

DVD resolution = 720 × 480

http://www.microvision.com/showwx/

http://www.microvision.com/showwx/specs.html
post #19 of 21
That's my prediction.

Anyone who thinks this is a toy because of resolution or lumens is just not using their (merd)head. Okay, that was a low blow. heh. But the lumens factor has already been discussed, it IS useful right now already. And for many presentations, 640x480 is more than adequate. Ditto for casual movie-watching, which millions of people are doing on their iPods today. Hell, that's almost DVD resolution.

So in the short term, iPhone/iPod movies become much more watchable - and to more than one person at a time. Drop one on your nightstand or headboard and shine on the ceiling to watch a movie with the spouse. Presentations no longer require hooking up to company projectors - they can happen anywhere, any time, without worries of projector availability or compatibility, etc.

But more importantly, look ahead and think about where this is going. This technology is first generation - it's going to get cheaper and higher resolution, and probably in a hurry. As soon as it puts out 1280x1024-ish, it becomes a viable solution to replace many desktop displays! At that point your desk doesn't need dedicated space for a display at all! Just shine it on your cubical wall, or a piece of paper or the wall or whatever works. Certainly we could end up with a totally new market for special white "screens" that enhance the image, but are passive, and relatively cheap.

But go another step and see how this could enable entirely new classes of devices. Laptops that have a tiny projector in them no longer need a fixed display at all! That allows total rethinking of what the form factors could be! The "screen" could just roll up into a little tube, or might not even be necessary. People are using cafe WiFi all the time these days, and one could imagine a row of stools with a counter; on the back side of the counter the wall is white, designed for this type of display. Really cheap and effective. There are a zillion cool directions this can go! :-)
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post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

The PicoP is great, but what is also needed is a small device like the iPhone, iPod touch or iTablet to run the FULL and complete Mac OS X, so that it can be used with the PicoP or a standard in-site videoprojector for full-blown presentations (transitions, animations, video, etc) from NATIVE Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint files. BECAUSE EVEN THE MacBook Air IS TOO LARGE AND HEAVY! Something like this, but with Mac OS X inside:

OQO model 2+
http://www.oqo.com

Or even better like this (see first picture):

Next Apple moves will be Books and Games
http://spidouz.wordpress.com/2008/09...ooks-and-games

With VGA port for video-out, true Ethernet and true Firewire ports.

THAT WILL SET NEW STANDARDS.

Anyone seen the demo of using a wii remote with a computer & projector to make an interactive screen. Imagine a device that is projector & sensors all together that tracks a user's movement or tracks a stylus of some sort.

These technologies are going to bring about some amazing things.
post #21 of 21
I am with Blah64.

Once it gets to 1024.x768, the iMac becomes a beefy iPhone plus any flat surface with the entire iPhone screen becoming the trackpad. Maybe this is the Mac Mini upgrade???

Who knows, if the tech is available as a separate "pen" or module, not built in to the main body, then the resolution could quickly increase as packaging would not be such an issue. Would make it easier to embed in a keyboard cradle, too, making the trackpad convenient.
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