January 9, 2007 4:04 AM PST

TI chip turns mobiles into movie projectors

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CES 2007: Gaga for gadgets in Vegas

January 11, 2007
LAS VEGAS--Texas Instruments wants to turn your cell phone into a wide-screen TV.

The semiconductor manufacturer is showing a prototype digital projector, based on its digital light processors (DLPs), that could fit on a cell phone. The projector contains three lasers, a DLP chip, and a power supply and measures about 1.5 inches in length. With the projector, the cell phone can beam DVD-quality video onto a screen, thereby allowing it (in conjunction with the screen or a white wall) to serve as a video player or a TV.

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"We have it in our labs in Dallas. Now we have to figure out how to commercialize it," said John Van Scoter, senior vice president of DLP products at TI, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

The company will discuss it more fully at 3GSM in Barcelona later this year. (News.com saw the prototype in a hotel suite but TI would not permit photos.) A Finnish company has also developed a cell phone projector, but it is based on different technology.

TI also showed how a standard cell phone can be hooked up to a small projector based around a DLP, which then beams movies onto a screen.

"You could actually drive a large-screen TV" with the processor in a high-end cell phone, said TI Chief Executive Rich Templeton.

The cell-phone-as-TV initiative is part of an overall effort at TI to rejuvenate the standing of DLP in the TV market. Projection TV sets, based on DLP chips, have been around for several years. In these TVs, images are projected onto the DLP, which is a chip that houses thousands of moving, small micromirrors. The mirrors then project and magnify the images on a screen. These TVs consume less power than LCD or plasma televisions, says TI, and often cost less.

DLP televisions, however, have not grown in popularity as fast as LCD in the past few years. DLP chips account for less than 10 percent of TI's revenue, said Templeton. The majority of DLP chips end up in projectors, not TVs, he added.

Part of the problem has been size. DLP televisions are SUV-sized devices, often measuring 20 inches or more in depth, making them far fatter than LCDs or plasmas. Most projection TVs have been sold in North America, where large family rooms are more common.

To that end, TI has been trying to trim pounds and inches from DLP televisions. At the conference, Samsung announced a new line of DLP televisions that measure only 10 inches thick.

The thinning of these TVs was accomplished by reducing the size of the DLP chip itself, changing the material the screen is made of, and changing how the light is channeled inside a projection TV. Samsung also switched from using conventional light sources to light-emitting diodes. Samsung and TI worked together on this project, both companies have said.

TI is also working with theaters to install DLP projectors for showing movies. In North America, approximately 2,000 theaters have installed DLP projectors. By the end of the year, there will be 5,000 theaters using the projectors, said Van Scoter.

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"Now we have to figure out how to commercialize it"
"We have it in our labs in Dallas. Now we have to figure out how to commercialize it,"

Tech companies have been working on this for a while now; how to build a projector that doesn't creat so much heat it melts it's own casing. Commercializing it shouldn't be that hard.

Smartphone presentations projector (bluetooth perhaps?)

Laptop presentations pocket projector (bluetooth still)

built in Mobile computing display (this was one of the original motivations if I remember back a few years) or on-the-go built in display for modular computer (big parts stay at home, harddrive and basic processor travel with you like PDA)

low power, small form heads up display for automobiles

Thought I'd have a longer list. I guess it is kinda hard or it's still too early for me to be truly imaginative today.

worse comes to worse, they can always build it into washroom ad-boards or something similar close to a surface. The ad companies are always looking for a new technology to abuse in persute of cramming more information polution in our faces.

Still, it's about time someone figured it out. Drop the price on that bad boy to something affordable and send me a bluetoothed test unit with PalmOS and Motorola connectivity.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
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I've been waiting for this
I want a PCs to be the size of a PDA. Now that we've got 40gig flash hard drives and folding bluetooth keyboards, all we need is a portable screen. Maybe with this technology, I can set the PDA/PC on a desk and have it project the screen onto the desk or wall. The trick will be getting enough light without heat from a small battery.
Posted by tghounsell (18 comments )
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Microvision already has this
Microvision is ahead of the game and displayed their prototype at CES. For more information go to microvision.blogspot.com
Posted by juilegd (1 comment )
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