New Projectors Will Enable Large Displays and More Usefulness from Small Computers and Smartphones

Light Blue Optics : Holographic Displays
Light Blue Optics (LBO) holographic laser projection technology creates very bright, high-resolution images that remain in focus at all distances from the pico projector. This novel display technology will enable a new generation of highly efficient, low-cost miniature projection systems with applications across a range of high-volume markets.

Light Blue Optics is also developing technology to let the device sense when a user touches different parts of the projected image, turning the surface into a touch screen.

Advantages of Holographic Laser Projection
Low Speckle Contrast: One of the huge advantages of LBO’s technology is the ability to substantially reduce laser speckle, a phenomenon that makes the image “sparkle” due to scattering of coherent light from an optically rough projection surface and subsequent interference at the retina. The ability to reduce speckle is important because, not only do users find the artifact very unpleasant, it also severely impacts the perceived image quality and effective resolution.

High Brightness and Efficiency: It has previously been shown15 that, due to the phase-modulating approach to image formation, a holographic display can project significantly brighter images than imaging and scanned-beam systems when displaying video and photo content. In addition, because the image pixels are formed using an expanded beam which has an extremely wide projection angle, it is possible to make a holographic laser projection system much brighter than a scanned-beam display for the equivalent laser safety classification.

LBO believes it can bring this truly disruptive display technology to market in 2009.

Microvision: Laser Pico projector
Later in 2009, Microvision, based in Redmond, WA, plans to launch a laser-based micro-projector. Using solid-state lasers and MEMS-based mirrors allows the technology to be miniaturized further. Laser projectors also promise to deliver more-vibrant and -colorful images. Microvision’s micro-projector can also refocus automatically.

Microvision mockup

Pico-projectors that are available now

MIT Technology Review has pico-projector coverage

Aiptek V10+

This micro-projector works with a range of portable gadgets: cell phones, DVDs, and video cameras. It comes with speakers and two gigabytes of built-in memory, which can be extended up to eight gigabytes with its internal SD/MMC memory card slot. This allows images or a presentation to be loaded onto one single handheld device. The built-in memory allows a user to share content by recording it directly from another device while also projecting it. The V10+ supports AVI, ASF, MEPG4, and JPEG file formats and displays images with a resolution of 640 X 480.

3M MPro110

This projector is designed more for business users who don’t want to lug around a heavy projector. It’s particularly good for PowerPoint presentations and can cast a 125-centimeter image from just 1.2 meters away, with a resolution of 640 x 480. Unlike other micro-projectors, the MPro110 comes with its own miniature tripod, which is handy if you don’t want to balance the device on books or hold it. On the downside, it doesn’t come with speakers or an audio-out socket.

Adapt Pico Projector

The Pico Projector, made by Taipei-based Adapt, features a Video/VGA cable input and no speakers, so it also seems that it is aimed at professional or business users. Under the hood, however, the Pico packs more punch than its competitors, offering 17 lumens–the perceived intensity of light–compared with the 10 lumens offered by the other two projectors. As a result, the image appears much clearer in lighter conditions, or at least requires less-dark conditions for viewing. The Pico will display 125-centimeter-wide images at a 640 x 480 resolution, features one gigabyte of built-in memory, and will run for about an hour on its lithium-ion batteries.

Virtual Keyboards Exist Now but are Pricy

I-tech’s virtual laser keyboard cost about $150

Another virtual keyboard idea is to use the camera on a phone to capture finger movements and convert them to keys on keyboard displayed on the phone.