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Pocket DV cam packs pico projector

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Computex Tiny pico projectors provided some of the biggest buzz at this week's Computex mega-show in Taiwan, according to a report from that country's tech-news source, DigiTimes.

In addition to powering pocketable projectors, pico-projection mechanisms and their optics are tiny enough to be incorporated into devices such as cell phones, media players, and cameras.

In fact, a pico-projector-DV-cam mash-up was on display at Comuputex, created by Taiwan's Life Technologies and to be marketed under their DigiLife brand.

The camera half of the DigiLife DDV-JF1, scheduled to be released by the end of this year, will have a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor that can capture 1280-by-720 resolution images at 30 frames per second, compress them using the H.264 codec, and play them back on its 2.5-inch LCD display.

But the surprise inside the DDV-JF1 will be a built-in pico projector designed to project 640-by-360 images up to four meters away at a diagonal image size of 50 inches.

Life Technologies hasn't yet decided which pico-projector technology it will use in the the DDV-JF1. As of today, it has four main choices: Texas Instruments' DLP, 3M's LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon), and Displaytech's FLCOS (ferroelectric LCOS) systems, which each require a focusing lens; and the lensless laser-based system designed by Microvision and planned for both OEM customers and the company's own Show WX, which is scheduled for release later this year.

DV cam manufacturer Aiptek, also headquartered in Taiwan, is also planning a cam-cum-pico unit for release before year's end. The company wasn't showing that combo at Computex, but it did have a passle of its own pico projectors on display, including the T20, designed for use with notebooks, and the T30, for projecting video from an iPhone or iPod.

Also on display was Aiptek's upgrade of its award-winning PocketCinema V10, the V10Plus, which adds more memory and the ability to record from, as the company claims, "any video source."

The PocketCinema V10's aforementioned award - one of the Taiwan Excellence Awards announced last month - was topped by another pico. Optoma's Pico Pocket Projector PK101 won a Taiwan Excellence Gold Award, while Aiptek took home a Silver.

According to DigiTimes, Oculon Optoelectronics, BroVista International, Honlai Technology, and ebon Technology all had 3M LCOS pico projectors on display at this year's Computex.

The next big thing may be quite small, indeed. ®

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