With the pico projector market increasing at a rapid rate all of the tertiary companies offering components used in making these tiny projectors are clambering for bigger and bigger share’s of the pie. With Syndiant as a prime example, the competition is pushing the quality of the pico projector components way up (syndiant are producing higher and higher resolution tiny lcd’s that will give these micro projectors higher resolution and clarity) we can see that the companies are just starting down this technological development route. The next major part other than the lcd display in a pico projector is arguably the driver, which in 90% of current released micro projector’s is given in the form of an ultra bright LED/array of ultrabright LEDs.
The ultrabright LED might at first seem like an ideal candidate for the pico projector’s light, and it does a pretty good job on the whole – but apart from running at low voltages, having long bulb life’s and good brightness for their size they do have their downsides. For one there is only so small and bright technology can currently make an LED and that’s a limit that’s not that easy to overcome, couple that with their slight heat production and operating temperatures and you can see that there is room for improvement while it might not be possible with the LED technology.
Enter the laser powered pico projector. Or at least we hope to see one on the market soon. The benefits of using a laser driver over an LED are simple, while the price may be inhibitive to start this should likely be pushed down by a commercial aim of higher capacity and smaller footprint pico projector. Firstly by using a Laser to drive a pico projector you will be able to change the distance of the microprojector from the surface its projecting on without any need for refocusing. LED based projector’s require you to refocus each time you reposition the projector. Secondly lasers are hugely efficient at converting electricity into light, more so than LED’s – which will mean smaller batteries or longer running times. Another feature of laser powered pico projector’s which would improve the battery life is that lasers can be built that will operate comfortably in temperatures up to 60 degrees (Celsius) without any need for cooling. This really is a benefit over the halogen powered projector’s as they often need fans to cool the heat producing bulbs. So as well as taking less energy to power, running smoother at higher temperatures lasers would also make the pico projectors themselves smaller as they can be produced to a tiny scale with high output. The final unbeatable point to mention is that using a laser in pico projector’s would mean possible frequency’s of 500mhz and HD+ resolution outputs. An unbeatable ace in the hand.
Reading this you can see why a lot of research and development is going into building the first viable pico projector laser driver – it is likely to hugely spur on the quality of the pico projector. But as often with these technological advances this development is not a simple one. When we discuss “laser” above we really are referring to 3 different laser modules (RGB – Red Green Blue) as well as a RGB combiner and an MEMS Scanner (which combine the 3 laser’s output and reflect it out onto its final surface using mirrors.) Still this development is certainly out of the stable and on its way. There have already been red and blue lasers which fitted within the low power consumption, highly mass producable category and now the company QD Laser has successfully mastered the Green Laser!
QD Laser have created a green quantum dot laser capable of fulfilling this gap in the technology. Operating at 2V and packaged as small as 5.6mm diameter QD Laser are pushing this development strait into the pico projector producers inbox’s. QD Laser say they will start shipping samples of this green laser source module in December 2009 with commercial pico projector size displays being launched mid 2010. This is hugely exciting news and could mean by Christmas 2010 we have HD resolution, bright – low power consumption, long lasting handheld, head mounted, tiny pico projectors! Think of the ps3 slim and pico projector combo with a hd pocket sized projector!!! This is a technology hackers dream!
Watch this space for more news on the Laser Powered Pico Projector!
[All Images Courtesy of QD Laser]