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Microvision's Tiny Display Promises Vivid Cell Phone Video Projection

Company anticipates that the new technology will increase consumer demand for mobile data services like mobile TV

Next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microvision, Inc., a digital imaging company based in Redmond, Wash., plans to introduce a tiny color projection display that's small enough to be embedded into portable devices like mobile phones.

The ultra-thin display -- comparable to a thin mint, though less likely to melt in your hand -- is built upon Microvision's Integrated Photonics Module (IPM), which allows images on portable device screens to be projected on nearby surfaces for improved viewing.

Using the IPM to drive a mobile phone projector, images stay in focus at any distance, even on curved surfaces, according to the company.

Alexander Tokman, president and CEO of Microvision, says that cell phone displays typically represent a barrier to growth in the mobile market because they limit the user's viewing experience. He expects that as mobile phone makers adopt his company's technology, mobile network operators will see greater demand for mobile data services, such as mobile TV.

While Tokman suggests that consumers will be enthralled with the ability to hold group screenings of mobile phone video content, it's unclear whether film industry groups will be enthusiastic about a technology that allows anyone to set up an ad hoc movie theater. Video and audio content owners have not been shy about pursuing copyright infringement claims for unlicensed public exhibitions of their shows and songs. It seems unlikely that industry groups will experience a sudden change of heart, at least until mobile video becomes a more substantial revenue stream.

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