Thinnest Pocket Projector

The world's thinnest "pico" video projector has been announced by researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering. The device uses an array of microlenses, each with its own tiny LCD. The device is just six millimeters thick.


(Prototype pico projector from Fraunhofer Institute )

Increasing the brightness of a projection normally means increasing the area of the light source used, says Marcel Sieler, a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Germany. Sieler was involved with developing the prototype. But to increase the area in this way requires a thicker lens to focus the larger image. "As the area of the light source increases, so does the volume of the lens," says Sieler. The result is a much bigger projector.

Sieler and colleagues created a novel type of lens that focuses light from a relatively large light source while remaining thin. The prototype video projector consists of 45 microlenses colored red, green, or blue. Each lens has an LCD with 200 by 200 pixels behind it. The light passing through each LCD is focused through a lens, and together each image is superimposed on top of each other to produce the final image. The design was inspired by a type of microlens array known as a "fly's eye condenser," which is normally used to mix light from different sources.

In his 1971 novel The Anome, SF Grandmaster Jack Vance described a very nifty pocket display projector:

Ifness drew from his pocket a tube of dull black metal an inch in diameter, four inches long. Along the flattened top a number of knobs caught the light and glittered in Ifness' hand. He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.

Etzwane had never seen a photograph so detailed.
(Read more about Vance's pocket display projector)

Via Technology Review.

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