PC Mag: The World's Smallest Projector

The World's Smallest Projector

By Lance Ulanoff

The PicoP will fit inside your phone and shoot a 50-inch image on the wall.

Video on your mobile phone and mp3 player is the latest thing; in fact full-length movie downloads from the likes of iTunes are almost common place. Too bad you have to watch all of them on that itty bitty screen. The world's smallest projector technology could change all that.

Microvision has invented PicoP, a laser-based projector that could someday in the not-too-distant future be placed inside portable cell phones, MP3 players, and other handheld devices. That's because the actual projector will be no larger than an Andes thin mint. The company unveiled a working prototype last night at Pepcom Digital Experience, a CES 2007 pre-show event that actually has no official affiliation with CES.

Using three tiny lasers (RGB colors), a combiner (to bring together the laser colors into a unified color pixel), and a tiny one-millimeter mirror, PicoP can project up-to-a 50-inch image in darkened room.

Images are not high-def, but they do appear in a sharp 800x 600 SVGA image at a 60 HZ refresh rate—that's because the combiner is shooting the combined pixels onto the mirror line-by-line. PicoP uses neither a projection bulb nor a focusing lens to produce the image. In fact, it conserves energy by only turning on the lasers when it needs them. So for an all green image, PicoP will turn off the Red and Blue lasers. This all happens in a fraction of a second. Microvision representatives said the technology inside is remarkable simply and actually resembles a DVD player's pickup head.

In the demo at Digital Experience, PicoP cast a vibrant image of Disney's Finding Nemo on a common piece of 8.5-by-11-inch white paper. The image was clear, but the amount of light in the large conference hall did not offer an optimal viewing environment.

Microvision said consumers could see PicoP-enabled phones as early as 2008.


  1. Ben,

    Pictures of pico images look very faded. Is this just a poor pic or are there quality issues?

  2. So, 800 X 600 SVGA it is. Also, could someone provide a link to some QUALITY shots of the projected images, because the ones I've seen just seem blurry. Thanks.

  3. To me, SVGA seems very resonable for a PicoP in a phone. 1920x1080p would be great, but I doubt something in a phone factor would have the bandwidth or storage to utilize that rez.

    Of course I expect at least 720p 16x9 in a standalone PicoP.


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