3M Co prototyped an ultra-compact projector that can fit in a hand like a mobile phone. The projector is being demonstrated at the 2008 International CES. It is capable of projecting images that are roughly the size of a 20-inch screen several tens of centimeters ahead.
3M plans to supply a so-called mobile projection engine, which integrates a light source and a panel with the company's proprietary optical system, to device manufacturers on an OEM basis. The company is ready to supply this engine and hopes to find clients by the end of 2008.
An LED light source and an LCOS panel were employed in the development of 3M's new engine.
"These components meet four requirements," said the company, explaining the reason for choosing them. "They are well suited for miniaturization, they have high power efficiency and picture quality and are can be easily obtained."
"LED is less expensive than a laser unit and generates no speckle noise," a demonstrator from the company said. "Some people don't care about speckle noise, but quite a few people do." Speckle noise refers to video noise with a twinkling appearance.
The latest projection engine is a single plate type product that uses one 640 x 480 VGA LCOS panel. VGA resolution is the minimum required to properly display a PowerPoint screen, according to the company.
The prototype demonstrated at the Show was designed to project images read from an SD memory card. The company is showcasing the projection engine itself along with the ultra-compact projector in its booth at CES.