Now that all major electronics manufactures are producing intelligent, network capable devices, how is the average person supposed to get everything working together and controlled? Control4 has a vision of the networked home with all devices controlled from one remote, one switch or even your phone and is on its way to developing an ecosystem of partners to realize that vision.
This is the 3rd CES show for Microvision, which continues to generate excitement with its $500 pico projector not much bigger than an iPhone. The projector is the world's first to incorporate laser technology and specifically a green laser developed by Corning Incorporated which allows for true, saturated colors, uniform image and an image that is always in focus even as you move the projector closer then farther from wall or screen. According to Microvision staff, the projector is now shipping in Australia and Spain. "We could have sold 100,000 of them at the show," said Director of Communications Matt Nichols, but the company has been confronting serious supply constraints on key components (Corning is having some troubles delivering the green laser in mass quantity). How useful is a 10-lumen projector? One of the company's fans I met at CES told me that if he was stuck at an airport and wanted to watch the big game he'd much rather see it projected on the wall than on his phone's tiny screen. As a technology company, Microvision has opportunities to embed its unique technology into numerous devices including mobile phones, computers, e-readers, game players etc. By itself, the projector continues to generate considerable buzz and received a "Last Gadget Standing" award at the annual CES gadget shootout by that name as selected by an online audience. Having Dr. Evil of Austin Powers fame in the booth also drew attention. (Rumor has it that Dr. Evil is looking to turn the laser based device into a weapon.) I suppose a market for the 10-lumen projectors is those 300,000 developers in China writing software apps for Nokia phones. Microvision could sell a projector to each one to demonstrate their software directly from the mobile phone.
Of course, on the other side of the projector front Texas Instruments, inventor of DLP projection technology, is not standing still. Samsung seems to have leaped ahead of Microvision by demonstrating a mobile phone integrated with a DLP projector. And, Samsung's Korean-based rival LG also unveiled its prototype version of a projector phone incorporating TI's DLP technology.
Optoma -- a traditional projector manufacturer -- showed a projector slightly larger than Microvision's, LG's and Samsung's (though still micro enough for most applications) based on a brighter DLP engine that outputs 50-lumens, a bit more practical for presentations, while neighboring 3M showed an upgraded version of its LED projector that's now ramped up to a whopping 15 lumens. (Folks, 15 lumens is not very bright. Either you need to show it in a dark room, or, you need to have a small image size -- granted th at the small image is going to be somewhat larger than your mobile phon e display.)
BlackBerry is taking a different approach, developing a device called the BlackBerry Presenter that allows users to connect wirelessly to a bright, conference room projector to make Powerpoint presentations on the go. This would seem to be a more practical direction for business and education use.