Imagine that your mobile phone or PDA had a display the size of a laptop’s but still fit snugly in your pocket. Hardware engineers at several companies are working on miniature video projectors that promise just that. Using projection, “you can make an image larger than the size of the device you carry,” says research scientist Ramesh Raskar of the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, MA.
Key to the new projectors are lights small enough to squeeze into a PDA-sized gadget but bright enough to display crisp images. Lumileds Lighting in San Jose, CA, has built a prototype projector roughly the size of a pocket camera that employs small, powerful light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to throw an image the size and brightness of a laptop’s screen onto any white surface. The Mitsubishi lab is using LEDs to build an even smaller projector, about the length and width of a credit card.
The first pocket-sized projectors, available within the next three years, will probably be stand-alone accessories priced at $300 to $900, the companies predict, but the ultimate goal is to fit them inside handhelds. And with camera phone owners snapping photos by the thousands – manufacturers will ship an estimated 800 million camera phones by 2007 – a built-in projector that displays photos in larger formats could be a big draw for cellular customers.
Beyond that, says Adrian Cable, director of Light Blue Optics, a spinoff of the University of Cambridge in England that is developing a holographic miniprojector, “You can imagine a video analogue of the iPod that you could download DVDs into” and use as a portable cinema projector. And that would be infinitely cooler than a pocket laser pointer.
A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?
Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.
A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate
Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023
These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway
Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.