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?