Look 'Ma! A Drive-In Theatre for Ants!

Look 'Ma! A Drive-In Theatre for Ants!

Summary: Here's some neat Star Trekky-tech that you'll be able to get your hands on shortly -- Texas Instruments' DLP Pico Projector Development Kit. The kit includes a Zippo lighter-sized 7.

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Here's some neat Star Trekky-tech that you'll be able to get your hands on shortly -- Texas Instruments' DLP Pico Projector Development Kit. The kit includes a Zippo lighter-sized 7.5 lumen projector unit, combined with a BeagleBoard embedded Linux developer platform. Have a look at this cool video demo put together by one of the early developers.

Why would you need a projector this small? I'm not sure, but I bet the best applications haven't been conceived for it yet, although I suspect this might be one of the first uses. "Under the desk entertainment" re-defined. Heh.

Also See: TI Pico DLP Developer Kit Photo Gallery

Snickering juvenile humor aside, the technology really is quite impressive. The tiny projector is capable of HVGA resolution (640x240 --  good enough to display a near-Standard Definition quality movie) so I suspect that the first intended application is ad-hoc projection for field use, such as in the military. Two of these tiny units stacked on top of each other could effectively project 640x480 at true VGA,  with the appropriate software and hardware to stitch the two images together.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Want to use your BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile or iPhone device to quickly display a PowerPoint or OpenOffice.org Presenter presentation stored on an SD card? A few years in the future, it will be no problem -- just hook one of these Pico DLP units up to your device, and you're all set to go.

Effectively, this could allow you to combine a smart phone or PDA with a pico-projector and use it as a mobile platform similar to a netbook -- just connect keyboard and mouse. Or perhaps embed a Pico projector into a car's dashboard or a motorcycle helmet for a heads-up display (HUD) as found on modern fighter jets.

The BeagleBoard that the Pico DLP is combined with for this developer solution is also quite impressive in and of itself -- it features an ARM-derived 600Mhz Texas Instruments OMAP 3530 processor which is capable of 1200 MIPS, has an integrated graphics accelerator and digital signal processor, and runs on the Angstrom embedded Linux platform. The device also includes the MSP430 Low-Power micro controller, effectively making the BeagleBoard a complete system on a chip which consumes only 2 watts of power and requires no heat sink or fan. I'm looking forward to seeing this chipset integrated into future set-top boxes (Roku TNG, perhaps?) as well as thin clients.

The BeagleBoard is powered entirely by the USB connection,  interfaces with a PC using a DB9 serial connection, and interfaces to the Pico DLP via a miniature HDMI connector cable. Power to the Pico DLP is supplied via separate AC adapter, however. Have a look at this short video prepared by BeagleBoard for more interesting details.

The TI DLP Pico Projector Developer Kit is available from TI DLP authorized VARs at a suggested retail price of $349. For more information, see http://www.dlpdiscovery.com and https://community.ti.com

Are you excited about Pico DLP technology? What applications would you like to see? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Hardware, Android, iPhone, Processors, Smartphones, PCs, Windows

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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5 comments
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  • pico

    pronounced PEE-COH
    jimatshaw@...
    • In New Yawk when you have a cold

      It's PYE-CO
      jperlow
      • The linguistic origins do not have a cold

        Pico is a pre-fix of Spanish origin. "I" in Spanish is "EE" (long 'e') in English.

        http://www.wordinfo.info/words/index/info/view_unit/1667/?letter=P&spage=7
        jimatshaw@...
  • RE: Look 'Ma! A Drive-In Theatre for Ants!

    Isn't 7.5 lumen a little dim for anything usable? I have seen the 25 lumen units that some major vendors have attempted, and you basically had to be in a completely blacked out conference room in order to see it, and even then it was not bright enough for detail.
    jimatshaw@...
  • RE: Look 'Ma! A Drive-In Theatre for Ants!

    It's a developer, low cost unit. I suspect that the first generation tech is really for test purposes only.
    jperlow