PORTLAND, Ore. — The digital light processor (DLP) is the most mature large-screen technology for projectors but is fast becoming the most mature for small-screen projectors, too. Based on Texas Instruments Inc.'s digital micro-mirror devices (DMDs), these chips house as many as two million micro-mirrors on them -- one dedicated to each pixel. Each mirror is as small as five microns on a chip as small as 0.2 inches. Each tilt-and-roll pixel (TRP) deflects the light from red, green, and blue light sources (usually LEDs) onto its assigned area of the screen with intensity controlled by the duty cycle of on/off illumination of the pixel.
"DLP digital micro-mirrors deflect the light completely off the screen when off, giving them a great contrast ratio. And the gap between the mirrors is so small that it looks like the resolution is higher on the device than other techniques with big gaps between pixels," Frank Moizio, manager of TI's DLP Pico business unit, told EE Times.
To expand the DLP into new markets, TI launched its LightCrafter Display 2010 Evaluation Module (EVM), which includes a WVGA (800-by-480 pixel) display chipset. The unit is so small and inexpensive that some original equipment manufactures (OEMs) are using it inside their products.
The WVGA display chipset is small and modular, so much so that some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) expect to use it in their products.
"To expand into new markets TI has put together an expandable evaluation module that is small and cheap enough to become a subsystem in products like smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, projectors, digital signage, automobile control panels, head-up displays and near-eye displays," Moizio told EE Times.
The Samsung Galaxy Beam and Samsung Galaxy Beam 2 just introduced in China last month (July 2014) both contain TI's pico-projector chips and TI claims to be closing in on design wins in other new markets for its newest 0.2-inch TRP WVGA display chipset. Some of these applications include touch activation using cameras, time of flight sensors, infrared curtains and other means of detecting where a finger is touching on a projected image.
Texas Instruments smallest digital light projector (DLP) is small enough to mount on eyeglasses for a heads up display, or with two -- one for each eye -- for virtual reality applications. It also comes built into Samsung's new Galaxy Beam 2. (Source: Texas Instruments)
"Our new chip set also has what we call IntelliBright Technology that enables it to be 100 percent brighter, or trade off brightness to make it 50 percent more power efficient than our best chip set to date," Moizio told EE Times.
TI is not trying to compete with the optical- and light-engine makers out there already, but they are setting an example and making sure their engines are compatible with those made by others.
"Our EVM includes a fully functional optical engine that is very small, but there are about a dozen optical engines manufacturers and about 20 light engines," Moizio told EE Times. "In fact, our new chip set and EVM scales from about 25 to over 100 lumens and can accommodate any of those light engines already out there -- they can just be plugged in directly which allows for a lot of flexibility in development."
TI's Lightcrafter Display 2010 Evaluation Module also comes with all the software too: plug-and-play code for quick try-outs using the HDMI input. A graphic user interface (GUI) for using the USB port. Plus users get the MSP430 microcontroller source-code and the executable code for the DLPC3435 display controller.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times