Texas Instruments’ new pico chipset makes possible 720p projection from smartphones

March 7, 2014
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Texas Instruments 03 HD Pico DLP Projector

Texas Instruments has built a new chipset for pico projectors. The 0.3″ HD TRP DLP® Pico™ chipset is TI’s smallest, most efficient chipset, capable of generating 720p HD displays and can fit inside of compact devices, such as tablets or smartphones.

TI is a major producer of pico projection technology. We caught up with them last year to sample their DLP pico projectors, check out the video here. They have really stepped it up with their new 0.3″ HD TRP, claiming 30% greater efficiency and 100% higher brightness over their previous best model. Better yet, the 0.3″ HD TRP uses 50% less power. The chipset is based on proven DLP Cinema technology, the same tech that TI claims is used for projection systems in 8 out of 10 theaters.

Samsung Galaxy Beam

What this all means is that with the 0.3″ HD TRP DLP Pico chipset containing twice the number of pixels for its size, it is realistic to see 720p projection built right into future smartphones.

We took a good look at the Samsung Galaxy Beam a couple years ago, which hit the market with a projector built in. The Beam was a relatively underpowered phone itself, and the battery was only good for up to 3 hours with the projector turned on. It was able to spit out 15 lumens brightness and cast images up to 50-inches wide at 640 x 360 resolution.

TI’s new tech is so far beyond the Galaxy Beam that it is not entirely unrealistic to imagine projecting lifesize Game of Thrones on the wall. However, the 0.3″ HD TRP may go to a few different uses first. Current customers are using the chipset to do nifty things like project an image right onto the human eyeball – they claim it is for medical purposes, but I am just thinking Google Glass in fullscreen. Other use on mobile devices may be for a projected keyboard onto the desk in front of you, with additional sensors to calculate input, thus providing touchless typing.

TI Pico Display

For those that are interested in the tech itself, the 0.3″ HD TRP DLP Pico chipset is a 0.31-inch orthogonal micromirror array with 1280 x 720 aluminum micrometer sized mirrors. It has a 5.4-micron micromirror pitch and a ±17° micromirror tilt angle. It accepts side illumination to keep things flat and runs on an 8-bit subLVDS input data bus. All this in a package size of 18.2mm x 7mm x 3.8mm.

Thanks to TI, we can reasonably expect to see 720p projection to be built into future mobile devices. The question is, do we really want our phones to be projectors? The Galaxy Beam was not exactly a huge success, should we leave projection to dedicated pico projectors instead?

Comments

  • akkey

    I want my phone to project 3D holographic display

  • Dave Weinstein

    Well, while I don’t see much point to a projector in a phone, I DO see that it would be great to build it into the lid of a laptop.

    With a compact projector in the lid, it would be easy to give presentations or collaborate while using office apps.

    • Tjaldid

      if they make it small enough then why not built it into tablets.

    • Gilles LeBlanc

      I see more use in watching TV projected to my ceiling or wall then say a heartbeat sensor next to my phones camera aperature. Think third party applications development.

  • K

    You said this is so far beyond the gaalxy beam…but dint say by how much. How wide can this chip cast images?

    • Jonathan Feist

      Hey K, the chipset itself is only a part of the projection unit, agreed, but it is the part that makes the 1280 x 720 resolution possible. As I mentioned, this chipset is 100% brighter, 30% more efficient and uses 50% less power than previous chipsets. Since the Galaxy Beam was only capable of 640 x 360 resolution, this new chipset contains 4x more pixels in a smaller space.

      The final casted image size will depend on additional factors, such as lens and illumination technology. As an example, if we were to use the exact same lens and light source as the Galaxy Beam, we would essentially only get the same size of casted image because there is not enough light to go any larger. This new chipset simply provides much higher image quality.

      Does that make sense? (Also, my example is on the theoretical side, there is exact math involved here that I am sure an expert could explain.)

      • K

        It does. Glad you replied.

  • Ruz

    Definately i want to see this in upcoming top of the line smartphones since 720p makes better sense for projection. We dont want 50″ and can do away with 24″ too while not exceeding the physical size of the projector port and making phone dimension unchanged..

    i want to them but only if they come in high end phones