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TI to demo 'pico-projector' tech at CTIA

Company sees the light...then has to turn it off

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Texas Instruments (TI) believes it may have an answer to one of the besetting snags of mobile tech. The electronics giant says it intends to demo DLP "pico-projector" technology at the CTIA Wireless Convention, which opened today in Orlando.

The kit might be deployed in pocket gadgets of the future, potentially sidestepping the small display screens which are at present a major limiting factor on mobile applications. The company's press release is available here.

There seems to be some grounds for some scepticism here. Obviously, a projection head on a smartphone isn't really going to make it easier to watch video on the train or plane – or indeed most places where you can't draw the blinds and turn the lights off. An integrated pocket projector could perhaps simplify business presentations in some situations, but most offices seem to be overflowing with display gear these days.

Then there's the ever-vexed question of battery life. A light source powerful enough to throw an adequately bright image is going to be something of a power hog. Mobile-gizmo batteries are already under severe strain as hardware makers cram more and more stuff into converged platforms.

None of this will put off the true gadget-lover, of course. There are plenty of people out there who would buy a pico-DLP enabled device purely for the fun of projecting downloaded smut or comedy-accident videos onto their friends' living-room wall.

Then, there's the very-occasional-user theory. You might not buy your gadget just because of the projector, indeed you might never use it normally; a bit like the average mobile-phone user and his GPRS. But one day you might be really glad you had your pico-projector when you wanted to show someone a picture or video clip. A projector could be a lot more intuitive to set up and use than GPRS typically is. Consumers might come to see such kit as just another to-be-expected add-on. TI is surely hoping so.

Even given all this, the pico-projector will have to see off stiff competition from the various kinds of foldable/rollable screen tech expected to debut in the near future, not to mention video specs or goggles. Worse, it isn't totally established that people really need to carry a big screen with them wherever they go, either.

TI would seem to be at some risk of ending up in the neat-ideas graveyard here. But nobody ever got far without taking some risks. ®

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