Feeds

Apple patents laser, incandescent projector for laptops, smartphones

An idea whose time has come – and gone

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Apple has been granted a patent for a projector technology that uses a mash-up of laser and incandescent light sources, which the patent document says could be used not only in standalone projectors, but could also be scaled down to pico-projector size for use in a laptop, smartphone, "or other handheld device."

US Patent 8,502,926, "Display system having coherent and incoherent light sources", was filed on September 30, 2009, and granted on Tuesday.

This is not the only pico-projector patent that Apple has in the works at the US Patent and Trademark Office. In February 2010 it filed a patent application, "Projected Display Shared Workspaces", which was published in August 2011. That filing, however, focused on how laptops, smartphones, and tablets could share image data and combine them into one display.

Tuesday's patent, however, concerns itself with the projector itself, and how laser and incandescent light sources "operating in concert" can be combined to project a single image.

The patent notes that although laser-based projectors can provide better resolution than projectors with incandescent light sources, lasers have their disadvantages – greater power requirements, for one. "Because of their greater power consumption requirements," the patent notes, "laser based display systems also may include complicated cooling circuitry and thus result in more bulky projection equipment."

Illustration of pico projector–equipped laptop in Apple's patent, 'Display system having coherent and incoherent light sources'

Patent illustrations are rarely known for their artistic elegance

Lasers also exhibit the "so called 'speckle' problem," the patent asserts, referring to the fact that when coherent light strikes a rough surface, the image produced may appear grainy.

And then there's the simple fact that lasers are more expensive than simple incandescent light sources. "Accordingly," the patent reasons, "display systems that embrace the desirable features of laser light sources while overcoming the undesirable features of non-laser light sources may be useful."

Which is exactly what US Patent 8,502,926 does, in a variety of embodiments with varied wavelengths and intensities of the coherent and incoherent light sources, and with a variety of different control mechanisms.

Illustration of shared light-source projector schematic in Apple's patent, 'Display system having coherent and incoherent light sources'

Lasers and incandescent light sources, working together in harmony

While your humble Reg reporter may be unqualified to comment on the optics involved in the coherent-incoherent light interactions of Apple's newly granted patent, he feels compelled to point out that mobile devices equipped with pico projectors have suffered the same fate as 3D televisions – meaning loads of hype followed by dismal acceptance in the marketplace.

As early as 2007, Texas Instruments demoed a pico projector intended for use in mobile devices. Taiwan's Computex was buzzing about pico projectors in 2009, and in 2010 LG stuck one in a smartphone and HP was said to be prepping a pico-projecting laptop. Needless to say, none of those products took the world by storm.

Samsung demoed a pico projector–equipped phone dubbed the Show in 2009, launched the renamed Galaxy Beam in Singapore in 2010, and announced last February that it was bringing it to Western markets. A search for the Galaxy Beam on Samsung's website now returns merely the original press release, but no phone.

Cook & Co. may need a showstopper product – and soon – to bring a sparkle back into the eyes of the investment community, but we suggest that the solution to that challenge doesn't lie in "Display system having coherent and incoherent light sources". ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.