Having a big touchscreen really isn’t cutting the mustard anymore and that’s why you’re starting to see more of a push toward pico projectors. As adoption increases, so will innovation and that’s what we’re seeing today with a new “hot embossing technique” devised by the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Germany.
First, a bit of a primer on digital pico projectors. They say that there are two primary paths you can take. Traditional lenses use multiple glass magnifiers, resulting in a long and bulky contraption. The much more compact option is to create microlens arrays, but only plastic versions have been made so far. The bulbs in the projectors are capable of melting those plastic arrays.
The new hot embossing techique, however, is able to produce glass microlens arrays. These “high-refraction” arrays are said to be suitable for mass production and could bring the price of projection lenses to a tenth of their current cost. This could really help with the increase in adoption, encouraging more manufacturers to consider including pico projectors in their cameras, smartphones, and what-have-you.
Yes, the lens is only a small fraction of the overall cost and most pico projectors aren’t exactly the most suitable in anything more than a dimly-lit room, but this new technique represents a fairly sizable “baby step” toward more of these kinds of devices. Maybe the Seabird isn’t that far away after all.