SANTA CRUZ, Calif.—Intersil Corp. is offering specialized mixed-signal chip sets in a reference design using Micron Technologies Inc.'s liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) display for novel pico-projector applications.
Pico-projectors are being designed into myriad applications, from augmented reality to reveal muscles/veins under the skin for surgeons or the wiring/pipes inside walls for construction workers, to projecting virtual keyboards or control panels on to desktops for knowledge workers. However, the application driving mass production—and consequent lower prices—will be social networking apps, according to Intersil, which aims to prompt consumer electronics makers to start building-in tiny 10-millimeter pico-projectors modules into their smartphones starting with an integrated mixed-signal chip set.
"Social networking is being limited by the devices we use today," said Susan Hardman, senior vice president of Intersil's analog/mixed signal product group. "Intersil wants to change that with chip sets that make it easier to design-in pico-projector modules."
To prove the point, Intersil showed a reference design that uses its chips to fit a 5.5 cubic centimeter LCoS pico-projector module from Micron onto a tiny 1.7-by-2 inch circuit board that could fit inside even a slim-line smartphone. Even smaller three cubic centimeter modules are due by next year, with laser-based module slated to go below two cubic centimeters within the next two years.
"We now have the industry's smallest production-ready LCoS pico-projector solution," said Hardman. "But there are many other innovative pico-projector modules coming in the next few years which we also plan to support."
The Pico-qHD reference design uses Micron's LCoS optical engine with Intersil's fully-integrated LED driver which has been customized for pico projector display applications, its LCD video processor chip, its buck-boost converter and a power management IC. Applications which can now add low-power pico-projector capabilities—no fan or other cooling is required—merely need to reproduce its board and firmware include digital cameras, smartphones, tablets, video players and many novel handheld devices just now being defined.
Intersil's pico-projector reference design allows engineers to quickly prototype novel applications such as keyboard's projected onto tabletop.