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Mobile Phone Projectors "Will Launch This Year" 168

Posted by kdawson
from the is-that-a-laser-in-your-pocket dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mobile phones with built-in mini projectors will launch later this year, according to 3M, which gave PC Pro a hands-on demonstration of the technology at CES 2008. The projector has a brightness of around 8-10 lumens, and is capable of displaying an image of up to 50 in., although 3M's spokesperson Greg Roberts told us that, with perfect lighting conditions, it's possible to squeeze a 60-in. screen out of the projector."
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Mobile Phone Projectors "Will Launch This Year"

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  • 8- 10 lumins? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @03:58AM (#21965970)
    WTF? 50inch screen with only 10 lumin is going to be SHITTY.
    • Re:8- 10 lumins? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by squeemey (925509) <lovecat99@hotmail.com> on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @04:11AM (#21966042)
      Yes, but being able to project an internet site on an 8 x 11 sheet of paper on the go will be a big asset and very useful. A real computer in a pocket.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @04:50AM (#21966174)
        "A real computer in a pocket."

        Are you sure you're not just happy to see me?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ArcticCelt (660351)
        had to that one of those projected keypads and you have a dream portable computer.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Millions of college students slipping a 50" cock into the professor's lecture while he isn't looking...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ceeam (39911)
      That's the essence of cellphones - doing a million things but SHITTY.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      WTF? 50inch screen with only 10 lumin is going to be SHITTY.

      Needs moar lumins?

      What is a lumin anyway? Some sort of cross between a loofah and a human?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by djimi (315208)
        It's lumens:

        "The SI unit of luminous flux, equal to the amount of light emitted per second in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform source of one candela."

        A small AA battery maglite has 15.2 lumens average, so it's brighter than a small flashlight... if that floats your boat, er lights your night.
        • a basic tutorial (Score:5, Informative)

          by adam (1231) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @04:59AM (#21966206)
          Being in the film industry, I work in footcandles usually and not lumens, but If I recall correctly the correlation between them is close (I'm not a cinematographer, so lighting is secondary to my normal job function). A 'birthday cake candle' in a pitch black room, will produce 1 foot candle of light at-- wait for it.. 1 foot. If you put a 1-foot-square surface (like a 12" x 12" piece of paper) 1 foot away from that candle, it will be hit with "1 lumen"

          A 'normal' candle produces about 15 lumens. Incandescent bulbs (normal lightbulbs) produce about 15-18 lumens *PER WATT*. So this projector is roughly equivalent to
          Now, there are claims of a 50" projection (diagonal, I assume) from this-- no specification as to how far from the projection source the 'screen' is, but light works on the inverse square law-- basically, as you double the distance from a given light source, you get a square root of intensity. So if this sucker threw 10FC at 1 foot, at 2 feet that intensity has dropped to 3.2. At 4 feet, 1.8. So if that 50" screen requires you to be 8 feet back.. forget about it.

          Overall, this sounds like a cool little geek gadget, but as other posters have said, probably just another example of cellphones trying to do too much (too poorly ;). If they can increase the light output significantly, it might be useful for something other than showing someone really low brightness web pages shined onto a piece of whitepaper 10" away while in a darkened room.

          Apologies if I screwed up any of my tutorial, as I said, I don't paint directly with light, I just admire the guys who do.
          • I think he mistyped "complete darkness after your eyes have adjusted".

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by bolo1729 (759710)

            So if this sucker threw 10FC at 1 foot, at 2 feet that intensity has dropped to 3.2. At 4 feet, 1.8. So if that 50" screen requires you to be 8 feet back.. forget about it.
            Right. You'd need at least a beowulf cluster of these...
          • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @06:58AM (#21966624)
            The inverse square law only applies to an isotropic source - a light that's being emitted in every direction (like a candle). This is why lasers stay bright at a distance.

            All that matters here is light output divided by the square inches of the screen. Assuming that this screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio and produces a 50" diagonal image, that means it produces 1200 sq in of image. This gives 10 lumens / 1200 sq in = .008 lumen / sq in.

            I have no idea though if that's a lot or a little.
            • by Richy_T (111409)
              The inverse square law applies to divergent light sources. I don't think that a projector that fits in a cell phone that wasn't divergent would be particularly useful.
            • by mpoulton (689851)
              The inverse square law only applies to an isotropic source - a light that's being emitted in every direction (like a candle). This is why lasers stay bright at a distance.

              This is not correct. The inverse square law applies to all sources of photons (from radio waves all the way up to X-rays, coherent or incoherent). Lasers included. The inverse-square relationship is only measurable, of course, for measurement windows that lie completely inside the field of radiation. In other words, to measure the
            • As far as the screen is concerned, a projector is an isotropic source. As you move farther away from the source, the 'screen area' grows reducing the light per unit area (as opposed to a laser, where the illuminated dot will be roughly the same size regardless of distance, within limitations of course). This is why the inverse square law still applies in this argument. And no, 10 lumens is not very bright for a projector. Low end projectors are somewhere around 500-800 lumens and work in a windowless ro
              • by ceoyoyo (59147)
                If you specify that the projector just fills the 50" screen at X distance then the light intensity at any point on the screen doesn't depend on the value of X. The screen could be a handspan away or (with much better focusing) it could be across a big hall, but you'd still be putting all the light produced by the projector onto that 50" screen.

                The inverse square law is useful to tell you how bright the image will be if you move the screen away from X and depart from the quoted 50" spec. Even then it only
            • Moderators are on crack today. Parent is completely and utterly wrong about basic physics and is sitting at +4 Insightful.

              You guys are supposed to be geeks! Surely you know that lasers aren't really completely parallel, right? Diffraction limits and all that? It's impossible to have a completely parallel light source, and thus all light sources follow the inverse square law -- lasers included.
            • The inverse square law only applies to an isotropic source - a light that's being emitted in every direction (like a candle). This is why lasers stay bright at a distance.

              All that matters here is light output divided by the square inches of the screen.

              When you say "light output divided by the square inches of the screen" - that's what we call an inverse square law. On account, you see, of the light output being divided by the square - oh, never mind.

              • by bkr1_2k (237627)
                "When you say "light output divided by the square inches of the screen" - that's what we call an inverse square law. On account, you see, of the light output being divided by the square - oh, never mind."

                Except not. Inverse square has to do with the distance from the source, not the square area of the reflected surface. (An argument can be made that the area of the reflected surface has a relationship to the distance from the source, but it's not the same thing at all.)

                Check this website for a more comple
                • Except not. Inverse square has to do with the distance from the source, not the square area of the reflected surface. (An argument can be made that the area of the reflected surface has a relationship to the distance from the source, but it's not the same thing at all.)

                  Except yes, because the relationship between distance and cross-section that you consider to be not-the-same-thing is a characteristic property of (flat) three-dimensional space. It's why we get inverse square laws as a default physical be

          • The revolutionary change - squeezing a viable video projector into a cell phone - has been achieved.
            Yes, it's pretty weak at this point. ...but don't overlook the fact that now it's just a matter of incremental improvements, cranking up the power and improving efficency.

            (What is it about /. that people so enjoy trashing new technologies based on correctable/improvable limits? kinda like dissing hard drives in general because the first ones were 10MB, and never giving 'em a chance to grow to 1TB.)
          • by eck011219 (851729)
            Moreover, if they CAN crank up the light output, what's that going to do for battery life?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dotancohen (1015143)
      That's how they will get you to buy the 25 lumins model next year, when the technology will ripen. Why should they lose out on the money they could make selling immature technology?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Fizzl (209397)
      I think the "optimal conditions" mentioned would be a quantum photon trap in perfect vacuum.
    • You could say the same thing with the 1.3MP camera when it was released. But advances will make it better eventually. It may take a while but we might be able to make it better. And who can disagree that a weak powered something is better than nothing(unless it is windows vista :P)
    • by rtb61 (674572)
      What are you talking about. It will be perfect for overage kids to scare the crap out of each other at night as various monsters, zombies, spectres and a random assortment of dangerous animals and insects sized to a fifty inch screen leap out from random reflective surfaces.

      Oh yeah, a really hot fad it most certainly will be ;).

    • by v1 (525388)
      Well you read the article, "with perfect lighting conditions, it's possible to squeeze a 60-in. screen out of the projector."

      I'm sure by "perfect lighting conditions" they mean the room is pitch black, the viewers are 15" from the image, and all of them have spent the last 10 minutes acclimating to total darkness.
  • oh joy (Score:4, Funny)

    by rastoboy29 (807168) * on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @04:04AM (#21966006) Homepage
    And you thought laser pointers were annoying when they came out.

    Seriously though, it is pretty cool.

    That being said, I bought a cigarette lighter this week, and when I got home I discovered it had a laser pointer built into it, all for two bucks.

    Soon my microwave will be able to use it's laser pointer to point at the projection it puts on my wall that my popcorn is done, as opposed to beeping, which would be oh so gauche.
  • by AbsoluteXyro (1048620) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @04:06AM (#21966022)
    This is only going to lead to millions of college students slipping a 50" cock into the professor's lecture while he isn't looking.
    • This is only going to lead to millions of college students slipping a 50" cock into the professor's....
      For those of us who's minds run at about 2.5 times their reading speed, 2.5 disgusting images filled our heads.
    • by hmccabe (465882) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @05:00AM (#21966210)
      I don't want to be that old guy who bitches about how easy kids have it these days, but when I was a college freshman, we didn't have anything like this. If I wanted to distract the class with an absurdly large cock, I had to whip out my own.
      • Kids these days. Surely taking up one penis enlargement offer is enough for anybody. I bet you were also checking the time on one of your dozen or so cheap Rolex's too.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Auldclootie (1131129)
          The gauntlet has been thrown - the challenge accepted. I WILL get 12 Rolexes on the said appendage. Stay tuned - This may take some time as i have to synchronize watches...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Aw, you're just pulling my leg. No, my other leg.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by famebait (450028)
      I've never heard it called a 'lecture' before. Oh, wait....
  • by RuBLed (995686) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @04:09AM (#21966032)
    ... but this is not the same as this one http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/03/0418221 [slashdot.org]. This one is led based and seems to be smaller but the PicoP one is laser based and images seems to be better. That is the one I want on a mobile phone. OTOH I don't want these on my mobile phone...
    • Microvision seem to have faked the videos of the Picop in action, which is a bit of a poor show (http://www.microvision.com/video/elevator.wmv?autoplay=1 or http://www.microvision.com/video/soccer.wmv?autoplay=1 [microvision.com]). The projection probably looks very washed out in well lit environments, so they decided to fake it instead. I'm sure it looks good in the dark though. The only issue I can think of is laser speckle, but I've never seen a laser projector in action, so I don't know how bad the effect is going to
  • One step closer to the MPP (Mobile Porn Platform)

    One hand keeping the cellphone steady and the other hand fap, fap, fapping away.

    Of course we are going to need a hell of lot more then 8-10 lumens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by joto (134244)
      Yeah, and of course most cell phones already have vibrators. What we are all anxiously awaiting is one with an artificial vagina as well.
  • phones? bah! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @05:25AM (#21966296)
    sod the mobile phone market.

    I am waiting for my mini laser powered home cinema projector that I can get for £100 (or $200 if you like), never have to change a £300 bulb on a £300 projector, never have a loud whirry fan and huge amounts of excess heat, generates a good HD image with a respectable amount of lumens and can be tastefully hidden in a wall of books with a drop down projector screen on the over side of the room. Now *thats* a product I would get excited by.

    Rubbish 10 lumen images projected from a bloody mobile phones of all gizmo's are nothing to me except an obvious tactic to attempt to sell phones. Of course the projector market might suppress this because of bulb sales, but who knows?

    The alternative use for this technology is mini computers with projected screens and laser/IR keyboards that can fit in a pocket and allow office work against a hotel wall with full wifi, SSD and decent battery life. Now thats another use I would get exited by. I want my Zardoz projector/interface ring.

    • Re:phones? bah! (Score:4, Informative)

      by bheer (633842) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {reehbr}> on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @08:05AM (#21966850)
      I am waiting for my mini laser powered home cinema projector that I can get for £100 (or $200 if you like), never have to change a £300 bulb on a £300 projector, never have a loud whirry fan and huge amounts of excess heat, generates a good HD image with a respectable amount of lumens and can be tastefully hidden in a wall of books with a drop down projector screen on the over side of the room.

      This [pcmag.com] might interest you, then.

      • by zyzko (6739)

        I am waiting for my mini laser powered home cinema projector that I can get for £100 (or $200 if you like), never have to change a £300 bulb on a £300 projector, never have a loud whirry fan and huge amounts of excess heat, generates a good HD image with a respectable amount of lumens and can be tastefully hidden in a wall of books with a drop down projector screen on the over side of the room.

        This [pcmag.com] might interest you, then.

        Good HD image? Where? That product promises a loysy resolution with no mention on lumens. They even talk about "business and personal" projector, not movies. That one is only good for youtube. Grandparent is right - heat, unreliable lamps (some manufacturers don't even tell you an estimate on lamp life anymore because your lamp can last anywhere between 500 and 8000 hours depending on make, model, environment, luck, phase of the moon etc.) and fans are a plague on current projectors. And yes, I now that so

    • This is going into phones first precisely because, at the moment they can only make small low power ones. Mobile market = gadget obsessed, huge volumes = drive down cost = pay for R&D = get bigger ones more quickly.

      Why do you think electric bicycles are more common than electric cars even though electric bicycles are less useful? Because it's easy to build an electric bike, hard to build an electric car, but the commercialisation drives public acceptance at affordable prices. Why are e-readers crap? Bec

    • by joto (134244) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @08:54AM (#21967066)

      a good HD image with a respectable amount of lumens

      Your language usage is weird. The word you are looking for is "bright", not "a respectable amount of lumens". Similarly, it's "hot", not "a respectable amount of celcius". And Sahara is "big", not "a respectable amount of square kilometers". Finally, Bush is "dumb", not "having an embarassing amount of IQs".

      • You can perfectly well have an amount of something but refer to the amount of its unit: four inches, for example, where the amount is four and the unit is inches. In this case, one might not have a respectable amount of inches.

        You can refer to http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=amount [reference.com] for the definition of amount. Just think: one potato is a small amount (or number, see discussion at dictionary.com) of potatoes. The amount is one, the unit is potatoes. A farm can have a respectable amount of acres
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      Now *thats* a product I would get excited by.

      I take it that not much excites you, as in you're impossible to please. It looks like you want to have it both ways, as if you'd want a unicorn but are not willing to actually pay for it.

      There are LED projectors available and coming out, but it hasn't really come of age yet, they aren't that bright yet.

      I think there are several great projectors available. I wouldn't be too turned off by bulb life, my first projector lasted about five years on a 2000 hour bulb.
  • Malarkey (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by sporkme (983186) *
    Balderdash.
  • Why a cellphone? so that everyone can see who's calling me? I see a lot of other cool possibilities, perhaps a new market for personal portable media.

    What about adding this projector to portable videoplayers/camera's or a (video) iPod (iPhone as well)
    Or build it into a car / (portable) gps navigation system so you can use your cars windscreen as a transparent heads up display!
    Another cool application could be a replacement of the virtual laser keyboard [thinkgeek.com] creating a virtual optimus [artlebedev.com] with dynamic keys :)

    C

    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @05:40AM (#21966372)

      Why a cellphone? so that everyone can see who's calling me?

      Wait, you mean, you mainly use your cellphone to give/receive phone calls? lol! 1998 just called, they want you back.

    • Now everyone can have their princess leia projected while talking to her, of course she is on the wall but one day she will literally spring up from the phone as you lay it down on the table and chat using your BT headset.

      Hell, done right we will eventually be able to do presentations for people who can't come into the office. Real time video and projection combined to make a cool tool. I figure it is just like cell based cameras, first two generations suck before something truly useful comes along
    • by famebait (450028)
      Why a cellphone? [...] What about adding this projector to portable videoplayers/camera's or a (video) iPod

      Duh. Because those others have already (or will very soon) moved into your cellphone too.
  • ... is expected to be over 45 minutes.

    Seriously, could the manufacturers try to produce a phone that goes, like, a whole week on a single charge?
    • ... is expected to be over 45 minutes. Seriously, could the manufacturers try to produce a phone that goes, like, a whole week on a single charge?

      Sure, they could - if they find cheap new compounds that can safely store massive quantities of energy, or if they design a super energy efficient phone (and yes, that usually means not so many cool features/abilities).


      ...unless you're all for carrying what amounts to mini-bombs in your pocket?

      PS: I get about 5~6 days on one full charge. Use an extended battery, turn off the backlight option, and don't make calls often ;)

    • Re:Battery life ... (Score:4, Informative)

      by mh1997 (1065630) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @09:10AM (#21967158)

      Seriously, could the manufacturers try to produce a phone that goes, like, a whole week on a single charge?
      They have, it is called a cell phone. It has no camera, it doesn't surf the internet, no MP3 player, no mini-tv screen. It just makes calls. Mine is a Samsung SCH-A310. The call quality isn't bad either.

      I guess when all that space is used for making a plain phone instead of the swiss army phone, the designers can concentrate on doing one thing well. In this case that one thing is making calls.

    • by Inda (580031)

      Like the sibbling poster, I also have a Samsung that'll go a whole week on a single charge. Two weeks if I turn it off when I sleep. I'll admit I don't use it much.

      It also has an MP3 player, 1gb storage, radio, camera, internet, quad-band, TV playback, kitchen sink. All of which are accessed from a menu that I use rarely. They are nice to use when I want them though.

      In the UK, mobile phones with no kitchen sink are now given away with £20.00 of credit. All these phone batteries will last over a we

  • What is with the scope creep in the mobile phone industry?

    I don't know if one already exists, but what'd be more useful in a small form factor projector would be a USB powered laptop projector, with VGA input.
  • by cowbutt (21077)
    As if "playing out" [hovis21.com] isn't already an annoying problem, it looks like we'll soon have to deal with "projecting out" too.
    • by iBod (534920)
      I thoroughly agree.

      The blatant obnoxiousness of most (yes, MOST) people today means that we'll have to watch their mindless crap as well as listen to it.

      If we don't like it we'll be labeled 'old farts'. Welcome to the brave new world!
  • This projector and a camera hack similar to the one Johnny Chung Lee made http://mradomski.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/wiimote-multi-touch-display/ [wordpress.com] with the Wiimote and you would have a multi-touch screen projected onto any surface. Drool
  • But when are they going to release the head-attached laser beams for my sharks?
  • 8-10 Lumens and they try to sell that? That's less bright than a candle. Now I know we started cinema with candles and camera obscura, but what this means for real life is that you have to make the room dark, as in pitch black, in order to see anything.

    Look at some comparisons [wikipedia.org]. Note that normal projectors like you use for home cinema, have 200 Lumens and up.
  • Killer app (Score:2, Funny)

    by timf (21111)
    I'd love one of these, if only so I could send captured plans to allies in the memory systems of one of these cell-phone units, along with an appropriate video message. You know, along the lines of:

    "General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person..." etc.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @08:13AM (#21966878)
    All the bleating about scope creep and so on completely misses the point. This is a potentially disruptive technology because it has the long term power to get rid of the _monitor_. Monitors are horrible, they are big and clunky. They determine the form factor of laptops and notebooks. Really and truly, we don't want them.

    Now imagine in a few years where your display surface might just be a cheap light screen with a simple support to hold it at different angles. The computer can be almost any shape that suits, perhaps with a fold out keyboard. You can have a big screen on your desk, a small clip on screen that you use on the train. Perhaps the computer has a wireless dongle that includes the display driver, perhaps it's built in, perhaps both.

    Using a curved screen might involve no more than an adjustable object in the optical path to deal with the pincushion distortion - use of lasers means focus at virtually any distance.

    Microsoft has built up a huge business based solely on the mouse, monitor,keyboard model. Apple has started to move away from it. This is a little gadget which could reshape the desktop computer industry. It shouldn't be underestimated.

  • Oh great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by LaughingCoder (914424) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @08:55AM (#21967074)
    Now people will be watching movies with their cell phones while driving.
    • by alcmaeon (684971)

      "Now people will be watching movies with their cell phones while driving."

      Yeah, projected on the back of the tractor trailer rig in front of you.

  • by Aaron Isotton (958761) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @08:56AM (#21967092)
    What counts in a projector is contrast (e.g. how much brighter is a "white" projected spot as opposed to a "black" projected spot).

    Obviously this depends on ambient light, since the darkest part of the screen (i.e. the "black spot") is illuminated only by ambient light (assuming that 'black' in the projector means 'no light passes').

    Illuminance is measured in Lux (lx). Lux is defined as follows.

    Lux = Lumen / m^2.

    Now, a "good" contrast is 10-15, i.e. a white spot will be illuminated with 10-15 times the lx a black spot is.

    Normal ambient light is highly variable; a typical table in a lecture room should be illuminated with about 500-1000 lx; the ambient light on your typical screen in an illuminated room (i.e. not a theatre) will be illuminated with maybe 100-500 lx.

    So in order to obtain a proper picture a projector should be able to do at least 1000 lx. Comparison: a typical home cinema beamer has about 2000 lumen and projects an area of about 2x1.12m; this means 2000 lumen / 2.24 m^2 = ~900 lx. And guess what, the picture is just fine when the room is "quite dark" and pretty washed out when it is illuminated.

    With the claimed 8-10 lumen - let's assume 10 - you can thus illuminate

    10 lumen / 1000 lx = 0.01 m^2

    Assuming a picture format of 16:9, that's a picture size of

    sqrt(0.01 m^2 / (16 * 9)) * 16 = 0.13 m width
    sqrt(0.01 m^2 / (16 * 9)) * 9 = 0.075 m height

    An incredible 13 cm x 7.5 cm! (5" x 3" for Americans).

    That's a diagonal of 5.8". Makes sense since a 2000 lumen projector is 200 times more powerful and accordingly projects an image with sqrt(200) = ~14 times the diagonal.

    Except in the darkest of situations, you will *never* have an usable 50 inch image with a lousy 10 lumen.
  • Phone...pr0n...only a typo apart, soon to be one.
  • I think a real hit would be a cell phone that emits microwaves.

    For those of us that want to reheat the morning coffee on the way to work.
  • As if it isn't bad enough that brain-dead shit-heads can force their choice 'music' upon us via 1000 Watt car audio system, now we can look forward to them projecting Goatse.cx and Tubgirl on any available surface.

    I think we should stop technology now. I've had enough.
  • They speak of an "impressive VGA resolution" but no numbers in the article. Someone has any idea of the number of pixel this thing can output ?
  • This must be the first time I heard anyone say "perfect lighting conditions" and mean "total darkness".

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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