One of the newer innovations being discussed in the wireless arena are small micro or pico projectors designed for use with mobile devices. Companies from all over the world have announced plans to enter the miniature display market. With so many different parties willing to make such an investment in the idea of mobile projection, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the mobile industry will soon see many new devices that enable handsets to externally project images.
While many of the devices that were being showcased at the 2008 Mobile World Congress and Consumer Electronics Show may not quite be available, it seems apparent that they can easily see a release date by the end of this year. As further detailed in an upcoming market focus report from IMS Research, The Evolution of Visual Displays in Handsets, there are a few different methods for mobile projection: ranging from Texas Instruments use of millions of tiny mirrors to Microvision's single mirror approach to Light Blue Optics use of holographic laser lights. Each of these projectors is capable of displaying full color, vibrant images of a size that would be ideal for watching television or other types of visual multimedia for an extended period of time.
However, report analyst Femi Omoni commented, "In spite of the encouraging factors that accompany mobile projectors, they are still a separate gadget from the handset itself. Having to carry a device separate from the mobile phone completely goes against the gospel of convergence that most manufacturers and operators have been preaching for the past few years." He added, "Developers will have to consider how many consumers will be willing to carry around both a phone and a projector, especially when they have been encouraged to develop the habit of needing just one device."
Despite the concerns, the future seems bright for mobile projectors. Upon initial release they will undoubtedly be marketed towards early adopters who will be less concerned with the perceived drawbacks of the projectors than they will be in the cool factor of having the latest mobile gadget. The lure of being able to properly utilize stored programming, visual multimedia and Mobile TV with their phones will further serve as incentive for many in this demographic.
Furthermore, the projector manufacturers are already hard at work on shrinking their inventions down even further to reach the point where they can be embedded in handsets and properly utilized as an additional, secondary screen. While the popularity of mobile projectors will probably be hampered until they can be embedded into handsets, there also seems to be little reason to doubt that mobile projectors will eventually become a major addition to the ever-growing list of features included (and expected) on smart and high-end feature phones.