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back to article Projector on a smartphone? There's a chip for that

Caltech researchers have demonstrated a chip they hope will one day let smartphones act as projectors. Instead of the light sources, image and lenses needed for a traditional projector, the Caltech chip uses an optical phased array (OPA) to create a projected image from a single laser diode – along the way eliminating the need …

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Bronze badge

"Caltech researchers have demonstrated a chip they hope will one day let smartphones act as projectors."

Really? So what do you call this:

http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxybeam/feature.html

Beam Projector Smartphone

Projection with 15 Lumen DLP (Digital Light Projector)

Your smartphone's built-in projector gives you the freedom to share - to really share - all kinds of contents with your friends virtually anywhere. Stunningly good definition with a gradated throw up to 2 meters away, you can adjust sizing as you wish, up to 50" large - as big as your TVs.

(Yes, yes, I know: there's a difference in the technology used. However, the first line of the article makes it sound like there is no such thing as a phone with a built-in projector, regardless of how it does it)

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I think that is it, it is the technology incorporated. You can have steam engine powertrain cars or hydrogen fuel cell ones, the caltech solution is more elegant.

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This one *is* different

Unlike phone projectors that have gone before, this one works by changing the phase angle between the emitted electrons.

In many ways this replicates what a phase array radar does, just at a much smaller scale (light wavelength instead of microwaves). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phased_array

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Re: This one *is* different

That's really important for everyone who's avoided phone projectors on the grounds that they have nothing in common with phased array radar.

Actually, the throwaway remark at the end that this could be used for cheaper and more robust LIDAR is probably the most exciting aspect of this - personally I need a self-driving car more often than I need a projector phone.

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Re: This one *is* different

I was surprised as well. LIDAR is surely a much more useful application than a smartphone projector, and to go mainstream my self driving car is going to need something a bit more compact than the current mechanical scanning LIDAR variants that Google and the like are using.

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Re: This one *is* different

"We could put this in your phone" is often just a shorthand way of saying "smaller / fewer moving parts / lower power consumption than the existing way of doing things".

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Re: This one *is* different

I'd say "We can put this in your phone" is mostly a way to grab the attention of mainstream media, hopefully attracting more investment.

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vector graphics

In essence, the array creates a “light pen” that draws an image on a target surface as lots of discrete lines

Ah, I wonder where I put that Tektronix 4014 graphics library?

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Re: vector graphics

Asteroids

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Re: Asteroids

The joy of flying off the right hand side of the screen and re-emerging from the left, coming to a wall near you!

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Re: asteroids

Spacewar

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Re: asteroids

Star Wars - my fav vector graphics arcade game of the 80s.

'use the force luke'

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Re: vector graphics

Having played Pong on the side of a pub thanks to a friend's disco laser (@VideoGameCarny), this tech seems useful as-is. Though if it could do a full game of Star Wars by laser interferometry, that'd be a nice treat.

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Re: asteroids... et al.

EEEEH! Battlezone!!!

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Re: asteroids... et al.

...zzzzZZZZZ

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Re: asteroids

'use the force luke'

thats what she said

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Only two questions

Assuming they can scale it;

1) What sort of power does it need and 2) can it produce a sensibly bright image, i.e. that could be used in a room with 'normal' lighting.

If the answer to 1) is 'about the same or less as your display', and to 2) is 'yes' then they've got something potentially useful. If it drains the battery faster than a squirrel on caffeine or needs near-blackout conditions, then it remains a gimmick in a 'phone, no matter how clever it is.

Personally I hope they can get it to work, 'cos I've had occasions where an impromptu wall projection would have been dead handy. Of course, there would be the problem of how to prop your device stably at the right angle (think you've got a steady hand? try magnifying by a factor of 15-20 and see if you can still read the screen :) ), but I'm sure somebody would make a case for that...

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Re: Only two questions

I'm inclined to believe the current class of image stabilization used in cameras should be able to handle the required compensation for most people. Heck if a helicopter can paint a target a mile away long enough for the missile to arrive this should be fairly easy. Granted the allowed error bar is probably fairly large when using high explosives but they've been at this for quite some time.

Now then, can we up the power and do laser tattoo removal at a distance? What about micro etching unique identifiers on cars stopped at a traffic light? Drone spotting?

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How do they propose to mount this on the head of a shark?

Yes. I want sharks with frickin phasers!

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Re: How do they propose to mount this on the head of a shark?

The problem is that with this tech you're more likely to be bored to death by the powerpoint "presentation" delivered by the shark mounted laser projector than any time delayed (important to allow the chance of escape) groin dissecting high power laser that's strangely visible as a line in the air...

Death by powerpoint is a most foul, cruel and evil way to kill people but it could take a long time as most people are either immune to this by now (natural selection in action) or have adequate survival techniques already developed.

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Anonymous Coward

Battery life will never improve on phones, always another feature to slap on and cause more drain. Not to mention phones getting thinner.

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People don't want smartphone projectors

The market has already demonstrated almost no one needs/wants a phone that acts as a projector, or those phones that already exist with this capability would have been hot sellers.

But if you ignore the clickbait of making this about smartphones, would this technology make proper projectors better than current ones in some way? The article says this is a new way of doing things, but doesn't really explain why it is better than current solutions aside from not having moving parts. That's nice and all, but current LCD projectors aren't breaking down due to moving parts problems as far as I know...

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Thumb Up

Phased array with *light*

That's pretty amazing.

However AFAIK most phased array systems are very narrow bandwidth.

But I think it's still a bit v 0.1 tech.

Cautious thumbs up.

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