Menu Close

Movie Projectors for the Cell Phone

Movie Projectors for the Cell Phone

Isn’t it amazing the age we live in? We can download movies and television shows into our cell phones, and watch them no matter where we are! Of course, it’s all on a 2 inch screen! Portable Media Players may give us a few more inches, but still, you’re watching something designed for a big screen on a little one.

Well, there may be another outlet. At this year’s CTIA Wireless show, Texas Instruments (TI) demonstrated a Digital Light Processing (DLP) “pico” projector, a tiny movie projector that is able to fit inside the tip of a cell phone. This projector has three lasers, a DLP ship, and measures about 1.5 inches long. It is the same technology that is in projection TV sets, but miniaturized.

A company called Upstream Engineering in Finland is also attempting to create a projector in a cell phone. Only their projector uses a Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, but still has the same problems. There are concerns whether the light will be bright enough, as projection technology requires quite a lot of lumens (units of brightness) to create a succinct image. The DLP, which uses lasers, could be the one that can produce quality images and still remain a small piece of hardware.

None of my sources say just how large an image the DLP can project. Apparently, the image will be “DVD quality”. Hopefully, they found a way to make it focus clearly, because the idea of holding it continuously in my hand for extended periods of time already makes my muscles sore. TI has not provided pictures of what the projected images look like, but then again, they probably are something that you would have to see in front of you in order to really appreciate.

TI has also not said when these cell phone/projectors will be available. Right now, the picture that I have is one that was released to the press about a week ago. The phone on it is fake, and I’m guessing that it will take a while before TI perfects how to integrate a cell and projector in the same little box. I also haven’t heard anything about sound quality, so I am assuming that any sound would be as good as what comes through the wearer’s headphones.

I’m not certain how this new technology will change mobile entertainment as we know it. Having a mini-movie projector probably won’t help if you want to watch it on a bus. Unless the bus happens to have a good section of white wall that it will let you use. That, or maybe the driver will let you lie down on the floor so you can project on the ceiling. That might work for mini-van passengers.

I also don’t know if this would work on an airplane, because don’t they ask you to turn your cell phones off? Still, assuming they let you use the projector, you could project your own in-flight movie on the seat in front of you (provided it’s in the fully upright position).

Don’t get me started on people who would use this product to project pornographic images. Yet if TI or Upstream Engineering get this working and get the FCC green light, this will become an issue.

To be honest, I’m not certain whether a projector for our cell phone is really needed. After all, if I really want to watch a show, I generally find the time to watch it uninterrupted. Watching a projected video on a cell phone is just asking for interruptions as it will inevitably ring during the best part.