Pico-projectors as shelf-edge and window displays?

I can remember humping a projector maybe 10 years ago that was the size of Tiger Woods’ golf bag, and likely weighed more. The damn things were back-breaking, and I always wondered why they had to be so big.

The professional versions that drive many digital signage displays today are still relatively big fellas, likely owing to extra cooling  components and other bit. And they will likely still be big for a while.

But there’s a new technology emerging that may offer a new tool for this industry.

Texas Instruments started demo’ing a digital light processing pico-projector prototype this week, a little gadget small enough to fit inside a cell phone and blast an image about the size of a laptop screen.

TI says the projectors use laser-diode and LED backlighting sources and can show an image as big as 15 to 20 inches, and expect to double that as brightness and battery limitations are boosted. It actually expects to start shipping product next year.

Now this is great for all those poor sales slobs who hump around laptops and projects to calls here, there and everywhere. In theory, somebody with a PDA phone should be able to whip that out, find a screen or blank wall, and run a presentation or slide show.

Where it could be relevant to our space is smaller screens at end caps, in windows and other areas in which conventional screens or projector systems would not work. Because the little projectors are so small, I can imagine some very clever things could be done to make images pretty much appear out of thin air.

Married with cell phones, you could imagine little embedded media players on the phones responding to commands sent on a broadband network, and abruptly blasting images in places where people would last expect to see marketing messages.

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