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Tiny mirrors fuel smartphones with video projectors

dlp 1Two new gadgets debuting this week show off the video projection capabilities of the digital light processing chips made by Texas Instruments.

The LG eXpo smartphone has a TI-based DLP Pico projector attachment, allowing the $179 phone to show movies, videos or a slide show on a blank wall or white surface.

Brightboxe also introduced a multimedia/gaming DLP projector in Target stores in Southern California. The projector works with game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, the Microsoft Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Wii. The $199 projector has a native 480p DVD resolution and a 500:1 contrast ratio. You never need to replace its lamp as you do with other projectors. It can show images ranging from 60 inches to 100 inches.

dlp 2Both devices use the TI technology, which consists of chips with millions of micro-machined mirrors on top of them that reflect light to create sharp video imagery. TI engineer Larry Hornbeck invented DLP in 1987. The chips contain 2 million mirrors, each of which is a fifth the size of a human hair. The mirrors are set on hinges and can switch on or off several thousand times per second.

The 1.8-ounce LG phone can project a crystal-clear image up to 60 inches in size. That means you can use your phone to share pictures, videos, and even make presentations to small groups.

These devices are engineering marvels and could generate a new market for TI’s DLP chips, which used to form the backbone of rear-projection TV sets. But flat-panel TVs have pretty much killed off that market. Here’s a link to a video of the Brightboxe product.


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