Coin-sized LCD projector lets you see the bigger picture|
(Monday, April 17, 2006 - 13:10 EDT)
A news article on the website of the Korea Times newspaper reports on an interesting new technology that promises the ability for digicams and camera phones to allow displays larger than you'd expect from a compact body.
The article discusses a technology preview by South Korean company Iljin Display, which is demonstrating a new, remarkably small LCD panel laser projector. With a width of only 0.24 inches, the LCD panel looks to be about the same size as those used in many electronic viewfinders found in digital cameras from a variety of manufacturers. A laser behind the LCD serves as a light source, and the panel itself rapidly switches between red, green and blue colors at each pixel location within one millisecond - allowing flicker-free, full color images to be projected.
The current technology demonstrator is said to be roughly the size of a packet of cigarettes, but Iljin expects to be able to reduce this to the size of a matchbox by the end of the year. The projected image will have a diagonal of approximately seven inches - significantly larger than the two to three inch LCD displays seen on most digicams these days. Camera phone displays are generally even smaller, and with phone sizes critical, there's little room to offer a larger display.
While the technology wouldn't be conducive to use for image preview, it sounds like it could be a good match for "chimping" - where everybody customarily groups around the camera to "ooh" and "aah" over the results - after you've captured the shot. A product that could project images on a nearby wall, or perhaps a desk or sheet of paper, might make it easier for everyone to see the images - although we'd note that no mention of image resolution or predicted power consumption has been made by Iljin yet.
Still, the idea certainly shows promise, and we'll be waiting with interest to see if it shows up in future digital cameras, photo viewers, and the like. According to the Korea Times article, cell phones based on the technology will hit the market in roughly a year's time, from Korean cell phone manufacturers Samsung and LG.