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NCSU research makes projectors more likley for smartphones

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New technology from researchers at N.C. State University and ImagineOptix Corporation may make smartphone projectors as common as smartphone cameras.

Pico projectors have appeared already in smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Beam, but researchers developed a much more efficient process to polarize light in liquid crystal (LC) projectors to reduce light loss and thus heat.

"This technology, which we call a polarization grating-polarization conversion system (PGPCS), will significantly improve the energy efficiency of LC projectors," explains Dr. Michael Escuti in a media release. "The commercial implications are broad reaching. Projectors that rely on batteries will be able to run for almost twice as long. And LC projectors of all kinds can be made twice as bright but use the same amount of power that they do now. However, we can’t promise that this will make classes and meetings twice as exciting." Escuti is the co-author of a paper describing the research and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State.

The new process will allow even more compact design in standard projectors and also reduce the dependence on those annoyingly loud cooling fans.  

The N.C. State press release explains more on how the technology works.

If you are curious about the Samsung Galaxy Beam here are a couple of pretty good previews from It has a 15 lumen output and can project up to 50 inches at a 640 x 360 resolution.

Pico projector demo

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The Swan song of bulb projectors

Honestly, for people who know, this is a real game changer for projectors. The biggest limitation on led type pico projectors has been the heating issue. With this resolved, manufacturers like AAXA, Optoma, and 3M can make their designs more compact and have less power devoted to keeping the projector cool. With more power, means more brightness that is the one last advantage bulb projectors have over picos. Just my two cents :)

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About the blogger

matthewmugMatthew Fortner has been at The News & Observer since 2002. He has a passion for gadgets, cutting-edge technology and all things geek.