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Motorola, Microvision promise projectors in mobiles

 Microvision projector 26th July 2007

What sort of things can you expect in a state of the art mobile? WiFi? Yes. 3G? Certainly. GPS? Sometimes. But Motorola's new deal with US firm Microvision might soon add a new gadget - a tiny projection system.


Microvision is already a specialist in laser technologies and pico-sized projectors, but this new tie-up is an ambitious attempt to place a viable projector inside a "mobile device". The prototype is slated to be a 854x480 pixel resolution unit based on their "PicoP" platform. It sounds like a pipedream, but the technology has already been demonstrated in May this year, using a laser-based technology.

The benefits are clear for both companies - Microvision would increase its market, but more crucially Motorola would have access to a "killer technology" that its competitors lack. A quick poll around the Mobile Gazette office indicates that we think this technology sounds pretty darned cool and would love to see it in action.

The advantages are not hard to figure out - a smartphone could run a PowerPoint presentation all by itself.. or perhaps the idea of downloading and watching a movie onto your mobile could at last be feasible (especially using HSDPA). Or maybe it will find its way into some sort of add-on, after all Motorola are pretty good at coming up with innovative phone accessories (take a look at the HS830 for example).

 Motorola and Microvision The technological challenges here are highly significant. Firstly, there's the issue of power - a typical mobile phone has a battery capacity of around 1000 mAh (milliampere hours), or to put it another way: around the same capacity as a single AAA alkaline cell. Batteries for portable projectors are around 4400 mAh, and they tend to drain the batteries pretty quickly. Secondly, the 854x480 pixel output requires 5 times the memory and processing power of a 240x320 pixel display commonly found on mobile phones. And finally there's the question of integrating all the electronics into a mobile device whilst keeping the size down to something manageable.

We don't think that this can be done with today's technology, but this tie-up is about tomorrow's technology. It's hard to say whether or not this will be a big seller, but certainly it's worth the effort for Motorola who could really use a unique selling proposition such as this to give them a boost.

There's no indication as to when this partnership might actually come up with a product, but our guess is that we might see a pico projector in some sort of mobile handset during 2009. More information can be found here.

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