TI DLP Projector Chips and Pico Projector Market Trends

One of the main portaprojector technologies is Texas Instruments’ DLP (digital light processing) chips. Several other technologies exist, however, and the competition is fierce between the key players in the burgeoning portaprojector industry. From Dallas News:

Texas Instruments Inc. is probably the only company at the Consumer Electronics Show using Pez candy dispensers to showcase its hottest technology.

But Dallas-based TI’s newest digital light processing chips for projectors are so tiny that they nestle comfortably inside the little cartridges.

The projectors themselves are almost as small and are being fitted into a growing array of handheld devices, from cameras to cellphones.

TI sees the entire “pico projector” category as ultimately being the biggest revenue generator for its DLP division.

“2009 was kind of the introduction of the concept,” said Kent Novak, senior vice president and general manager of DLP products at TI. “2010 is going to be a broadening of the category.”

The first phone with a DLP projector is already available in the U.S., although the projector for the LG eXpo on AT&T is a snap-on device rather than integrated into the phone.

The new chip does not allow for high-definition resolution; it maxes out at a resolution of 854×480. HD starts at 1280×720, while 1080p is 1920×1080.

Novak said he doesn’t see much demand for HD video from a pico projector – even when connected to an HD-capable console such as the Xbox 360 – but competitors are betting otherwise.

Dallas-based Syndiant, for example, was founded by former TI engineers and is developing pico chips using a technology called liquid crystal on silicon rather than DLP.

Syndiant is pushing hard to get to HD resolutions, and the projector it developed with Foryou Multimedia Electronics Co. that’s on display this week has a resolution of 1024×600.

Analysts have estimated that consumers could be buying hundreds of millions of phones, cameras and other mobile devices with built-in projectors every year by 2016.

Several companies are racing to establish their projector technologies as top-of-the-line. In addition to TI and Syndiant, 3M and Microvision are two other big players, and Nikon created a proprietary projector system for its Coolpix S1000pj point-and-shoot digital camera released last year.