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MicroVision announces opening of research and development facility at NTU

*UPDATE: Microvision has clarified that the current generation PicoP projection engine has an average energy draw of 2w and not a maximum power draw of 2w as was originally reported. The article has since been updated with the correct details.

Having said that much, you might be wondering about some of the cool stuff that could be done with laser technology today. Well, the good news is that you will not be disappointed; MicroVision had a small product showcase for NTU staff and members of the media to play around with, so feast your eyes on what the company touts are '"tomorrow's technology for today".

MicroVision PicoP display engine (third generation)

At the heart of essentially all of MicroVision's laser projection devices is the PicoP display engine, which, according to the company, is currently in its third generation of development. Also known as the PicoP Display Engine Generation 3, the highly-miniaturized projection module sports the following specifications:

  • WVGA resolution (848 x 480) with support for 16:9 aspect ratios
  • up to 15 lumens of brightness
  • infinite focus range which is supposedly capable of delivering 'always in focus' projections
  • contrast ratio above 5000 : 1
  • throw ratio of 1 : 1, and
  • compact dimensions of 50 x 20 x 7.6mm 

That being said, we were able to speak to MicroVision's director of research and development, Richard James, who revealed that future versions of the PicoP engine is expected to be capable of delivering HD resolutions while furthur reducing its physical footprint, thus making it more suitable for use in embedded devices.

James also mentioned that power draw of the engine remains a top priority for MicroVision; while the current generation of PicoP laser projection modules currently have an average power draw of 2w, the company is actively seeking ways to reduce that amount to below 2w on average for future generations of the PicoP engine.

MicroVision SHOWWX+ laser pico projector

The MicroVision SHOWWX+ laser projector is a highly mobile, pico-sized projector which utilizes the aforementioned PicoP laser projection module; as such, it shares the samehardware specifications with the latter. That being said, the SHOWWX+ has a few added features unique to it, due to the fact that it is a finished product designed to be sold to end-users. These features include:

  • a user-replaceable lithium-ion battery capable of up to two hours of battery life, and
  • support for standard video-out interfaces such as composite, component and RGB-VGA out.

Those who crave such a projector for personal use need not have to fret about local avaiilability though. VR-Zone has learnt from MicroVision's director of marketing, Jackie Dansak, that the MicroVision SHOWWX+ laser projector is currently available for sale locally, albeit under a different name during to OEM branding practices. The local version is known as the i-Connect ViewX Laser Pico Projector and is reportedly selling for the retail price of S$909.

MicroVision Sled Laser Pico Display prototype

The Sled Laser Pico Display serves the same purpose as the MicroVision SHOWWX+ projector shown above, except that it features a cradle for docking one's smartphone into the projector itself. This differs from the SHOWWX+ projector, which utilizes cables to establish a connection between the smartphone and the standalone projector.

MicroVision ARROW mini-tablet prototype

Do you fancy owning a tablet or smartphone that comes bundled with a built-in projector? Well, one of the devices up for show at today's media event is MicroVision's very own prototype, the ARROW mini-tablet, which feature an embedded PicoP laser projection module built right into the device.

See that tiny 'box' in the picture above? That's where your images get projected out from the tablet to a suitable screen

Of course, you cannot call a device a 'tablet' if it does not come with some basic I/O ports: located on the prototype are what appears to be two USB ports, namely the standard, full-sized USB port for data transfer, along with the mini-USB port which is most likely used for charging purposes.

MicroVision PicoP display engine evaluation kit (PEK)

Last but definitely not least, MicroVision also showcased its PicoP display engine evaluation kit or PEK2, which is based off the company's second-generation PicoP display engine. This evaluation kit is designed for use by developers and OEMs who wish to get a feel of how it is like to develop apps which will be capable of utilizing the PicoP display engine.

The PEK2 features what appears to be a mini-HDMI output port, along with two mini-USB ports and a DC-in jack.

And there is the all important part of the PEK2 – the laser projection diode, as shown in the image below:

We spoke to Dansak regarding the availability of the PEK2, and it turns out that the sale of the eveluation kit is not restricted to OEM developers only. Rather, any developer who is interested in getting a feel of how it is like to create apps that leverage the PEK2 is welcome to purchase the kit from MicroVision, and this includes people like independent programmers and enthusiast hackers. All they have to do is to simply make sure that they have US$1,000 ready in their piggy bank, because that is the cost of the PEK2.

And just in case you are wondering; yes, you get the SDK with it.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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