Japanese & Polish Researchers: "Mini-Projectors Need Holograms!" But wait, do we need mini-projectors?

Lasers & Holograms for Tiny Projectors - AkihabaraNews.com

Smartphone projectors? Laptop projectors? Pen projectors? Tablet projectors? Well, maybe there’s a market (maybe), but perfecting a practical mini-projector has been perennially problematic. Japanese and Polish researchers could have an answer: ditch the lenses and use holographic zoom.

• • •

First the Question: Should we Really be Working on This?
See, conceptually, it seems pretty cool; imagine a time in the future when both professionals and civilians could whip out their smartphone at a moment’s notice and project some businessy charts, or show grandma the photos from last week’s road trip, or whatever - just a few touchscreen taps, and pow - bright and shiny on any surface.

But here’s the thing, that future came and went about 18 months ago. Remember Samsung’s Galaxy Beam?Samsung Galaxy Beam - AkihabaraNews.com
Well, you’ll be forgiven. Few do.

The somewhat chunky, otherwise standard Android smartphone arrived right around the summation of the pico- & micro-projector hype cycle. Samsung gets props for giving it a go, but their projector phone, along with most mini-projector solutions, flamed out in a bad-word-of-mouth and buyer’s remorse-fueled inferno. That was just about... ohhhh, 18 months ago.

So, either mini-projector tech just isn’t good enough yet, or, as it’s currently conceived, there isn’t anything really compelling to like, you know, do with it. It could be that, outside of a few niche markets, along with the Segway, the Clapper, piezoelectric running shoes, and even Google Glass (when the fanboy drool finally dries), the mini-projector is destined for the island of lost technological toys. All very cool, all rather useless.

But Wait, Maybe it’s Implementation - We need Holograms Instead of Lenses!
A mild irony, the big barrier to wider (potential) implementation of mini-projection systems is size - and lensing systems get a lot of the blame (and brightness, too, but that’s a whole different thread of complaint). See, necessitating an exact distance from projector to projection surface would make the device brickishly unwieldly. It’d be like an open-air cathode ray tube (look it up, if you must).

(Actually, several zoom-incapable mini-projectors did make it to the market. For a while. A short while. Try eBay.)

A zoom function, coupled with some kind of focussing, is essential, and if lenses can be entirely amputated from the equation without losing the zooming capability, then you get smaller, cheaper, better mini-projectors.

To that end, a Japanese-led team of researchers from Chiba University, in collaboration with a Polish team from the Warsaw University of Technology, have decided that holograms are the answer. And lasers. No bulbs. No lenses. Just math for making holograms focus at variable distances. And lasers. Lasers are a big part of this. Lensless zooming and lasers and stuff have been implemented in mini-projectors before, but this development, detailed in the paper linked below, presents a considerable simplification.

So, good then. Science. Nice.
Now normally at this point in the article, it would be expected for an author to touch on the particulars of the actual science at work here, maybe toss out some big college sciencey words. But, in all likelihood, most readers aren’t really going to care, and honestly, neither do we (those who do, hit the source and original paper below).

Because We Come Back to the Question
The sciencey stuff is cool, but we’re not here to regurgitate the paper. We’re much more concerned with the user experience and product side of mini-projection systems. S
maller, cheaper, and better overall sounds great, and we'll find something cool to do with those smaller, cheaper, and better mini-projectors, right?

It does have a certain appeal... until you start thinking about what appears on your personal smartphone screen - and how much of that you'd be okay with broadcasting. It could get icky. Maybe you toss up a movie, a YouTube clip, some photos, and maybe - halfway through - an embarrassing notification or reminder pops up, or a creepy photo from a friend in Japan. Pops up on the wall. In front of mom. Ooops.

And okay, maybe thinking 'Smartphone Projector' is too narrow. But we're still not sure what exactly to do with this tech.

We'd love your ideas - hit us up in the comments below.
We'll print them out and drive to Chiba. 
Have a talk with Professor Shimobaba.

Really, because it's not too far. 
We're full service like that.

• • •

VIA: Kurzweil AI via Lensless zoomable holographic projection using scaled Fresnel diffraction, Optics Express
Images: Kurzweil AI; Samsung; AkihabaraNews.com

• • • 

Addendum I:
Open access, open published scholarly paper linked up there. Nice, nice. And you, you damn secretive, walled garden, monolithic, elitist, inaccessible academic journal publishing cartels, take heed! Technology is coming to get you and liberating information along the way.

Addendum II:
A team of Japanese and Polish researchers...” is not a common phrase, that is to say, not an overabundance of connection between the two nations, so it’s nice to see this sort of cooperation in action. Way to go with the international relations, science guys.

Source: 

Related Articles

Sanwa Supply - Pocket-sized portable projector, compatible with smartphones

 

Sanwa Supply just released a new pocket-sized slick portable projector "400-PRJ020".

After connecting with an MHL compliant smartphone, the portable projector can project photos or movies on the wall in a room. Also, it has an HDMI terminal built-in so that a notebook PC or blu-ray disc player can be connected.

A large-capacity battery (3,400mAh) enables it to continue projecting for a maximum of 2.5 hours.

REVIEW PREVIEWS: Sony α7S (Alpha 7S), Casio Selfie-Cam, Hybrid G-SCHOCK, and a Bargain Projector!

Restarting the Fire
Beginning late last year, AkihabaraNews rededicated itself to conducting more in-depth, multimedia product reviews. It’s gone well: contributors and editors have doubled down, and both the results and response have been great (Thanks, readers!).

Sony Life Space UX - AkihabaraNews.com
At this month’s Life Space UX event held at Sony’s Ginza headquarters here in Tokyo, AkihabaraNews was treated to a behind-the-scenes look at what Sony’s planning for our digital living space of the future

Sony has announced the development of an extremely sophisticated small-size projector module (Pico Projector Module), that can be used to project images from smart devices such as smartphones or tablets.

It uses an image processing system, independently-developed by Sony, that uses laser beam scanning (LBS) to create crisp, high-definition and "focus-free" projection regardless of distance, angle or projection surface.

 

2x3D, developed by the Shirai Lab at Kanagawa Institute of Technology, is a system that lets the same screen be viewed simultaneously by people who want to watch it in 2D and 3D.

Whereas conventional passive 3D systems use polarizing filters for both the left and right eyes, this system uses a special picture-generating algorithm. Pictures for the left eye can be seen with the naked eye and only pictures for the right eye need to be viewed through a polarizing filter.

Addtron Technology, a Japanese electrical appliances retailer, is going to release Taiwanese company Vivitek's mobile DLP projector - QUMI Q1 - in late August for about 26,000 yen.

ASUS unveiled the release of their palm-sized projector - S1 - for the Japanese market. It will be out on sale on July 25.

A projection technology called DLP technology is applied for the S1. Thanks to that, S1 reproduces colors better than usual LCD projectors and projects clear images with high contrast. It features an LED light source, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 30~100 inch screen size, 0.73~2.43m projection distance, and maximum luminance of 200 lumen.

Yoriko Takahashi - March 19, 2014

Taiwanese company, Acer is going to release 3D compatible HD projector "H5380BD" on March 20 for about ¥60,000 in Japan.

H5380BD is a projector with 3000 lumens bright illumination for both home use and business use. It's compatible with 3D images, however, to watch 3D images, you need to separately buy the 3D glasses (E2b v2). It is possible to project images in an MHL compliant smartphone on a large screen.
 

Aerial Burton has demonstrated an aerial 3D display, which can project text and images in mid-air.

"The biggest difference between our technology and other displays is, this is a screenless display. This is the only device that can show text and pictures in mid-air, without using a screen.