LCoS, DLP and MEMS laser scanning technologies are adopted.
Makers target application in smartphones and digital cameras.
Taiwan makers of microprojectors are emphasizing pico-type modules based on major technologies LCoS, DLP and MEMS laser scanning, anticipating integration in more mobile devices. They see smartphones and digital cameras as promising key applications for the young line, following Samsung’s adoption in handsets, and that of Sony and BenQ in the latter products. Companies are also looking to a future market base in tablet PCs, portable media and DVD players, gaming gadgets and automotive head-up displays or HUDs.
LCoS and DLP are widely adopted in terms of shipment volume, while MEMS is still a minority option due to high outlay. The first optical engine type is employed in feature phones and toys, specifically the CF subvariant for its lower cost. The LCoS CF counterpart supports a higher resolution.
DLP kinds find wide use in pocket projectors, smartphones and digital cameras. As with LCoS CS, these adopt sequential color technology, which enhances display quality. The latter, however, is more expensive.
MEMS laser scan engines, meanwhile, are considered a suitable solution for smartphones and HUDs owing to advantages of better color saturation, focus-free function, good heat dissipation and low power consumption. In addition, these have a high contrast ratio, reaching 5,000:1. As such, suppliers expect MEMS penetration to rise beginning next year.
Forward Electronics Co. Ltd offers MEMS pico projector modules for mobile phones and digital video cameras. The components deliver 20 to 35 lumens luminous flux, 800x600-pixel resolution and a 26in image at 1m throw distance. These consume 1.2W. The maker also makes standalone kinds.
Regardless of technologies pursued, Taiwan companies have lined up six R&D objectives to keep up with trends in terminal devices. They are working on decreasing module size and power consumption while boosting display resolution, and luminous flux and efficacy. Lower prices are also a goal.
Makers are targeting smaller than 3cc for MEMS- and DLP-based units, and 2cc or below for LCoS versions. So far, module dimensions are at 3 and 4cc.
By power consumption, the target is 1W for the MEMS category next year from the current level of less than 2W. Such modules have a comparatively lower power requirement than LCoS and DLP counterparts.
In resolution, the focus is to reach 1080p by 2015 to expand the application base. Laptops and game consoles, for instance, require 1024x600, 1366x768 pixels, 720p and full HD. For cell phones and media players, 854x480 and 800x600 pixels are preferred. At present, 720p is the maximum achieved.
For luminous flux, DLP modules are aiming at 9 lumens, and LCoS and MEMS more than 30 lumens. MEMS units have the highest among the three technologies with up to 15 lm/W, which can rise further to 20 lm/W next year and 40 lm/W in 2015 or 2016.
Due to a high entry barrier, there are fewer than 10 makers of microprojector modules in Taiwan at present.
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