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Tiny DLP projector ships

Jan 29, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 154 views

Digi-Key has started distributing a tiny video projector from Texas Instruments (TI) that could prove small enough to embed in mobile phones. The 10-lumen Pico Projector uses TI's DLP (digital light processing) technology, and is sold as part of a development kit targeting the Linux-ready BeagleBoard.

TI demonstrated the Pico projector in November, showing a Linux desktop playing 24-bit RGB video at 60Hz (see farther below). The Pico measures 2.8 x 1.6 x 0.6 inches (71 x 41 x 14mm), accepts 5-V DC power, and uses a low-powered LED as its light source. The device is equipped with a single mini-HDMI video input.

TI's Pico Projector, front and back
(Click either view to enlarge)

Digi-Key is selling the device for $350 as part of a Pico Projector Development Kit that includes power and video cables designed for connecting to a TI BeagleBoard development board. When used with the BeagleBoard, which is also being distributed by Digi-Key separately for $150, an I2C signal can be used to control the projector through the HDMI connection.

Pico projector diagram

A popular give-away at recent embedded trade shows, the BeagleBoard (pictured below, at left) uses TI's TI OMAP3530 processor, which incorporates ARM's Cortex-A8 processor core and superscalar ARMv7 architecture. The BeagleBoard comes with a special build of the Angstrom Linux distribution.

The BeagleBoard
(Click for details)

TI's demonstration video is available as an exclusive download from LinuxDevices in Ogg Theora format, here. In the demo (pictured below, at right), Software Systems Engineer Jim Molina shows a desktop computing setup based on the BeagleBoard and Pico projector. The demo reveals what Molina reckons to be a “really good image” of 24-bit RGB video rendered at 60Hz, with a brightness output of just under 10 lumens. The video is projected onto a screen about the size of a typical LCD flat-panel display. (Note that the output appeared crisper in the video's original MPEG-4 format.)

Scene from TI's
Pico Projector video

Stated Mark Larson, Digi-Key president and COO, “The Pico Projector Development Kit will enable the development of a wide array of embedded systems in the high-growth medical, industrial and consumer segments. With regard to the pairing of the pico projector and the BeagleBoard, it will be fun to see what engineers come up with using these two gadgets.”


The Pico Projector Development Kit is available now for $350, sys Digi-Key. More information on the kit may be found at this TI page, and the Digi-Key page for purchasing the kit may be found here.

TI also offers a digital video software development kit for its OMAP3 processors.

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