Tiny Projectors Are A Really Big Idea, Really - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
7/27/2007
01:19 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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Tiny Projectors Are A Really Big Idea, Really

Motorola's announcement that it will work toward building tiny video projectors into its handhelds seems to have been widely misunderstood - at least by the commenters who have responded to the story. "Bad idea"? Come ON, people, this is huge! Who needs this? Everybody who has a cellphone, starting with me.

Motorola's announcement that it will work toward building tiny video projectors into its handhelds seems to have been widely misunderstood - at least by the commenters who have responded to the story. "Bad idea"? Come ON, people, this is huge! Who needs this? Everybody who has a cellphone, starting with me.Maybe it's the word "projector" that's throwing everybody. Whipping out your smartphone to project brilliant PowerPoint slides on a wall-sized white board is definitely not what this is all about.

The thumbnail-sized projector would hardly be powerful enough - nor would the phone supply enough juice - to do anything like that. (And the commenter who worried about disruptions in movie theaters can relax: theaters would probably be able to head off any problems just by looking for people smuggling in car batteries under their jackets.)

But another commenter got it right: He or she wrote, "I think this would be great for us older folks that cannot see the displays on mobile devices very well. Some of these devices or almost useless to me because I can't always read the display."

When Microvision, the company that's been developing these little projectors, first demonstrated them last year at the Society of Information Display's meeting, the goal was to project a color image the size of a laptop display, and the prototypes weren't there yet. This year they were enough closer that Motorola could evidently see the, er, handwriting on the wall, so to speak, and signed on to get an early foot in the door.

The press release talked about users sharing "Web sites or multimedia applications such as movies, personal videos, mobile TV, photographs and presentations." But that's not why I think it's important.

Think for a minute: what are the two biggest pieces of any laptop PC? The screen and the keyboard. You can fold the keyboard in half to make it smaller - I've had great folding keyboards for my Palm devices for years. But (so far, at least) you can't fold the screen. If a device with a Microvision projector could incorporate a folding keyboard, it would be all set to run word and Excel, real productivity apps, on something small enough to slip into a pocket. Web browsing, which doesn't work on existing handhelds, would suddenly become possible because the projector could make the Web pages big enough to read.

Pictures of the grandkids? Maybe. But email with a full keyboard on a screen big enough to read? Definitely!

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