Because of their capability to overcome screen-size limitations in mobile electronics devices, tiny pico projectors embedded into products such as smart phones are set for a staggering sixtyfold growth in shipments during the next four years, according to iSuppli Corp.
Shipments of embedded pico projectors will rise to more than 3 million units in 2013, up from less than 50,000 units this year.
iSuppli defines pico projectors as front projectors weighing less than 2 pounds—or about 0.9 kilograms—and sized at less than 60 cubic inches—or about 983 cubic centimeters—without a battery pack. Despite their small sizes, pico projectors produce large displays, with some products capable of showing bright, 50-inch diagonal images on a wall or other surface.
This combination of small physical size and large image makes embedded pico projectors a perfect fit for space-constrained mobile devices.
“Mobile electronic devices offer consumers and corporate users the portability they desire, causing an increasing number of users to employ products like smart phones and netbook PCs as their primary platforms for computing and Internet access,” said Sanju Khatri, principal analyst, signage/projection, for iSuppli. “However, a major obstacle blocking the use of mobile devices in this fashion has been their tiny displays relative to desktop PCs. Embedded pico projectors promise to enlarge these displays, making mobile devices more capable as primary computing and Internet-access platforms.”
Pico projectors are likely to find initial acceptance in the corporate market, allowing businesspeople to make presentations directly from their mobile PCs, smart phones or PDAs. However, they also have a strong allure to consumers, allowing large-sized display of video, Internet sites and applications.
Smart phones represent a promising market for embedded pico projectors. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. fired the starting gun for this area with the unveiling of its Show smart phone at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The Show, which presently is only being sold in South Korea, employs Texas Instruments Inc.’s Digital Light Processing (DLP) projection technology. Other smart phones equipped with pico-projectors are likely to be introduced soon.
Besides DLP and other Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) display technologies, Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) technology shows equally strong promise in the embedded pico projector market.
In an example of the use of LCOS, Nikon announced it will ship in September its Coolpix S1000pj digital camera, which employs pico projection technology for the display of pictures and video.
While iSuppli predicts fast growth for embedded pico projectors, they still will account for a tiny fraction of overall mobile device shipments through 2013.
“The growth potential for embedded pico projectors will be limited during the next few years due to challenges in areas including power consumption, size and manufacturing,” Khatri said. “As these issues are resolved, pico projectors will appear in many more mobile electronics devices.”