Projectors today are very different from the ones with which we grew up. You can still find the larger projectors out there, but a new class of them are being developed that are small enough to fit in your pocket. Not only that, but some mobile phones (including the Samsung Galaxy Beam) have a projector built right in.
I personally see this as an area of potential for the mobile market. Not only could bright and vivid projection images improve the media consumption experience of the user, but imagine what being able to walk into a meeting and give a multimedia presentation on the fly with little more than a mobile phone could do.
Why Projectors Would Change Mobile Computing
Tablet computers are quickly being embraced as a potential form factor for the desktop computer of the future. Currently, Microsoft has developed the Surface to meet this criteria, complete with an HDMI out port for connecting to a larger screen such as a TV or monitor. Imagine having a tablet (like the Surface) with its own big-screen display by way of a projector. You could take it virtually anywhere and use it for large presentations or small-screen gaming.
On the phone side, I could imagine many ways integrated projection technology could come in handy. Imagine taking a photo of someone and being able to show it to them without everyone having to huddle (or pass) around a small screen. Nothing puts me off more than handing my phone over to someone.
Imagine an impromptu pitch meeting between the head of a new startup and a potential investor. You have minutes to make a lasting impression and your material may be available only on your phone. Do you hand your phone over and have that awkward conversation, or do you fire up a projection beam and throw your content on a nearby wall? To me, the latter seems much more appealing.
The challenges of projection technology are plentiful. Focus is easy to achieve through laser projection, but brightness is a big problem with portable units. You don’t get the same vivid white color on a small projector as you would on a larger unit. There are advances being made in LED and other smaller lighting technologies that may counteract this, but for now, it remains a bit of a challenge.
Battery life is also an ongoing issue. Unless you have something that is incredibly efficient, you’ll run your battery down faster than you’d like. Heat is also a problem with most projection technologies, and finding a cold light source that is both bright and doesn’t heat up your device is a challenge.
Portable digital projectors are an incredible technology. I personally can’t wait to see where the industry is headed next. It’s my own opinion that this technology will find its way into mobile devices such as phones and tablets, and eventually it’ll work well enough to put the current big projection units to shame. I’m on board with the idea that, in 10 years, a tablet computer may well replace the desktop tower of today. All you would need is a wall on which to throw a larger image and a keyboard to get up and running.
That’s my image of the future. What’s do you think the world of mobile technology will look like in 10 years?