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Projector-phones due by Christmas?

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Viewing videos on your smartphone's tiny display may soon be a thing of the past, replaced by your phone's ability to project that video onto a screen, wall, or even a friend's shirt.

According to a report on Monday by Taiwan-based market-watcher DigiTimes, mobile-technology-and-more manufacturer Foxlink has begun manufacturing tiny projectors commonly known as pico projectors and is working with "a handset client from Europe" to get those projectors into products as early as the end of this year.

The DigiTimes report also claims their sources told them that Nokia, Samsung, and Apple all "plan to launch handsets with built-in micro projectors by the end of this year." There's no independent confirmation of this rumor, but it's interesting to note that Foxlink's parent company, Foxconn, builds Apple's iPhone and has been reported to be working with Cupertino to produce Apple's long-rumored tablet/netbook/media-pad/ebook/whatever. Foxconn also has manufacturing ties with Nokia.

Pico projecters were all the rage last month at Taiwan's giant Computex show, with Life Technologies showing its DigiLife DDV-JF1 pico-projector-equipped digicam and other pico projectors on the way from Aiptek, Optoma, and others.

Microvision of Redmond, Washington has been demoing its laser-based ShowWX pico projector for quite some time, with a release both as a Microvision-branded product and as a OEM subsystem planned for later this year - a deadline aided by Corning's recent announcement that it can now provide Microvision with green lasers in mass-manufacturing quantities.

Microvision's ShowWX has the distinct advantage over other pico-projector designs of not needing a focusing lens, as do competing technologies such as Texas Instruments' DLP, 3M's LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon), and Displaytech's FLCOS (ferroelectric LCOS).

The DigiTimes report did not mention which technology its sources claim that Foxlink is using for its pico projector, and Microvision did not immediately respond to our request for information about their possible involvement. ®

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