Bruce Spenner and Kirstin Bordner from Micron were in New York last week to talk to the press. One of their main events was the Pepcom Wine, Dine and Demo event, but they also took the time to visit Insight Media in Norwalk to talk about their plans. Chris Chinnock and I had a chance to have dinner with them at Barcelona, a Tapas bar in Norwalk.
Insight Media Analyst
Talk, of course, centered on picoprojectors, especially the Micron plans for picoprojectors. Spenner told us Micron (formerly Displaytech) had decided to enter the picoprojector module business. This strategic change to make projection engines as opposed to just the microdisplays will not make some of their existing customers very happy, but the company feels it is necessary to push the technology and feature sets at the engine level. They will continue to support existing module designs at the existing OEM customers for as long as a design remains in production but will not support new designs. They will continue to sell their F-LCoS panels directly into two other markets, head-mounted displays and EVFs.
He showed a demonstration projector with a 3M module containing a Micron panel that had been built in cooperation with two partners, 3M and Broadcom. The samples shown featured a mini SD card slot, HDMI input connector, and a joystick for menu navigation. The system did not use a Micron engine module because, according to Spenner, no one outside Micron will see the Micron-built module or projector until CES.
Spenner also said Micron was developing new panels based on the design rules of a "real D-RAM line," presumably Micron’s. He said this will allow pixel size to be reduced by a factor of about 2x and allow Micron to produce a 0.24" WVGA panel by 2011. With 2011-vintage LEDs, he expects a module suitable for embedding in a cell phone to produce 10 lumens with this panel.
Bordner, who is in Corporate Communications for Micron, gave us a presentation on a small screen she leaned against the wall of the restaurant using a 3M MPro-120 projector and an iPhone (note the picprojector on a tripod, iPhone and screen all on the table in the photo). This, of course, is one of the target applications for picoprojectors: business presentations in non-traditional locations, like Tapas bars. One of the focuses of the presentation was how picoprojectors will jump over the chasm from early-adaptors to mass-market applications. According to Spenner, Micron has done numerous consumer focus groups and received very good response. When they polish their data a bit, they expect to share the results with Insight Media in the expectation that we will then share the results with our readers. So stay tuned: more information on how the consumers are reacting to picoprojectors is on the way.
One thing I noticed in the relatively dark restaurant was color breakup in the image. Spenner said he couldn’t see it, but he never could see color breakup. He did add that in all the consumer tests Micron has done, no consumer has ever commented on color breakup so he does not feel it was a problem. He had a special test projector that could operate at 180, 360 and 540 Hz field rates. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work Wednesday night in the relatively dark Tapas Bar. (Probably operator error!) I did get to see it in operation the next night in the relatively brightly lit Pepcom event. At 540 and 360 Hz, I couldn’t see color breakup but at 180 Hz I could. In the normal MPro-120, color breakup was much less visible in the brightly lit room than it had been the night before in the Tapas bar. Spenner says the Micron panel and module can operate at up to 720Hz and there is only a small loss in light output at 720Hz compared to 540Hz, certainly less than 5% and probably more like 2%.
Cheers and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Insight Media will be closed Thursday & Friday for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will publish the next Display Daily on Monday November 30th.