Microvision will be exhibiting at the 2008 International CES to give attendees a glance at its new ultra-miniature scanned-beam display engine technology that is intended to give mobile devices projection display capability, including standalone Pico projectors planned for market in 2009.
Eventually, the company plans to supply the engines to manufacturers of mobile devices, such as cellphones, to give everyone from business professionals to photo-happy teenagers the ability to present instant big-screen videos and slideshows on the go.
For now, the company is deciding how to best go to market with a standalone battery-operated Pico projector as an "accessory device" to iPods, digital cameras, camcorders etc.
By CES, Microvision said it expects to either be ready to announce plans to market the product under its own Microvision brand or to offer the technology through a marketing partner, said Matt Nichols, Microvision communications director.
After that, the company expects the technology to start being integrated into other devices. Since July 2007, the company has been operating under a non-exclusive joint development agreement with Motorola, Nichols said, as "one of our first partners in the handset space. Ultimately, they will define the timing of when that goes to market."
Unlike other miniature Pico projectors based on DLP or LCoS light-engines, Microvision's technology, called "PicoP," uses a display chip comprised of a single mirror (instead of millions of mirrors like a DLP chip) that is driven both horizontally and vertically on one axis, Nichols explained.
Lighting for the system comes from three miniature lasers (red, green and blue) that are said to produce both a brighter image and more color intensity than the LEDs used in competitive units. Microvision has developed a control system to combine the three lasers to produce natural colors and constantly sharp focus.
Microvision's first product will produce 10 lumens of brightness compared with 5 lumens produced by other competitive approaches, Nichols said.
Currently in its second generation, the display engine offers WVGA (848 by 480 lines) resolution.
Initially, Microvision said the standalone projectors will come to market at about $400, but economies of scale will enable the price for subsequent generations of the technology "to come down pretty quickly," he said. For integration into other products, like cellphones, the technology will have to be below $100 for the component, according to Nichols.
By around 2011, he said the company expects to have applications developed especially for use in automobiles.