Miniaturization continues unabated, a ream of consumer products getting smaller and shrinking down to previously unthinkable new sizes. Our latest and slightly kind of amazing new example is the projector, that heavy, fan-blowing noisy thing you see hanging from the ceiling of a University classroom or sitting on the desk in a boardroom. Somehow, now, again, without any damn notice, there’s one that fits in your pocket and hooks up to an ipod. What the hell?
It’s the Optoma Pico, which hooks up to iPods, PSPs, Digital Cameras, and the like. If you’re an ad agency on the go and need to fire up a presentation to a client while you’re sitting in a bar, forget both crowding intimately over the screen of your iPhone. Pull this out, hook it up, and amaze everyone with an image on the wall.
The New York Times’s David Pogue, resident technology-for-the-masses guru, had an exclusive look at this device and wrote up a review of it, back on election day.
it produce[s] an astonishingly bright, clear, vivid video or still image. That’s right — from a projector you’ve pulled from your jeans pocket.
The minimum distance for this projector is eight inches from your “screen”; the maximum is 8.5 feet away, at which point you get a 65-inch image. And it really, really helps if you dim the lights or use a properly reflective movie screen.
Even so, the Pico projector is the first of its kind — other micro-projectors are on the way — and over all, it’s awesome. When it goes on sale in two weeks, it will give parents a completely portable backseat-of-the-minivan movie theater for the kids. It will let photographers display their portfolios with much greater size and impact than they’d get with a scrapbook — right from the digital camera, if need be. It will permit spur-of-the-moment demos or pitches for corporate presenters or independent filmmakers, wherever they happen to be, without having to set anything up or reserve a room.
Whether the consumer market will feel an urgent need for a pocket-sized projector is another thing: it’s easy to fall back on excitement and look past the notion of whether or not such a product is actually useful. But I’m sure it is–the very notion of miniaturizing projectors will eventually lead us to that golden, shining moment in the future, the moment wherein we’ll walk up to a touchscreen, press a button, and a tiny beam of light we can barely see will project some kind of spinning image of our dreams, right in front of us. Why is it that all my expectations of future technological direction can be traced back to 3 or 4 movies?
Getting back to the projector, though: it’s the versatility of it all that’s incredible. I think this is a ridiculous moment, overall, for the amount of new technology that is suddenly being crammed down into small spaces. We’ve got a full-fledged HDTV camera with interchangeable, pro-level lenses in the new Canon EOS Mark II 5D, the juggernaut that is the iPhone, a netbook revolution, and 3d Printers that don’t take up a room but rather just some space on your desk. The amount of time between these innovations keeps shrinking exponentially. What seems to be different this time is we’re not looking at leaps and bounds in say, processing speed, but in the physical nature of things: product size, digital imaging, incredibly small but still-usable products.
When the launch of the new Macbooks gets a video detailing the exact industrial design process as a crucial launch component, there’s some kind of new object-design era at hand, no? It’s a fun time to be buying stuff.