Japan’s Explay Ltd recently announced that it has begun to ship its pico projector engines to developers around the world. The Explay Projector Engine is only 6.7 cubic centimeters in size and just 7mm thick (~1/4 of an inch). Despite its tiny dimensions, the pico projector generates 14 lumens laser light on just 1.3 Watts of power (1.8 with control circuits) and can produce images 7 to 70 inches in size. Resolution is a respectable 852×480 and with a laser based system it should stay in sharp focus over a wide range (20 to 200cm). While Explay has yet to announce which manufacturers will be using their projector they did say that they expect it to appear in devices as early as February of 2011. Looks like we’ll need to watch for it at CES. Explay plans on improving their projector engine further. They hope that the end of 2011 will see the arrival of a 25 lumens WXGA 1366×768 version. A member of the R&D team in Israel (part of XDM Ltd) shows off the 14 lumens pico projector in a prototype testing rig in the video below. Not a bad image for the world’s smallest laser projector.
While Explay’s pico projector doesn’t have the best picture quality stats we’ve seen, it’s pretty damn good. And with such a small size, the Explay projector could be easily incorporated into many phones and other mobile devices. Flip has been working to develop projector accessories, maybe the next one will simply be embedded in the camera. I’m excited to see where these smallest laser-based projectors will lead us. They may be an integral part of the next generation of human-computer interfaces, allowing us to use cameras and projectors instead of keyboards and mice. In the meantime, a crisp color picture coming out of a device smaller than a pack of gum is cool enough for me.