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Taiwan makers bolster nascent pico projector industry

Amid the growing market acceptance of pico projectors, companies are ramping up R&D on compliant solutions to attract early adopters and boost sales.

Suppliers of pico projector modules in Taiwan are cooperating with major technology providers to widen supply and strengthen expertise. Himax, for example, has partnered with 3M to codevelop LCoS solutions. Asia Optical, meanwhile, is collaborating with Microvision to offer modules based on laser scanning technology.

Makers are likewise upgrading selections to enhance competitiveness. Opus, for instance, is creating companion and embedded MEMS pico projector modules that consist of a light engine and a scan display controller.

Although currently small, the manufacturing base in Taiwan is expected to grow in coming months as more new entrants come in. Recently joining the line are LiteOn, Delta and C-Media. The other players are Young Optics, Foxlink, Genesys Logic and Syndiant, which provide light engines, projection lenses, chipsets and modules. The first is a leading source of digital light processing or DLP and LCoS solutions. The last two are coproducing chipsets.

At present, DLP, LCoS and laser scanning are the three major technologies used in pico projectors. The second will have the highest unit share in coming years, but DLP will lead in revenue, according to DisplaySearch. Scanning MEMS, however, will have the fastest growth rate in terms of output share and sales as more manufacturers adopt the technology.

TI’s DLP pico chipsets are used by many because of their power-saving features, low cost and small dimensions. Makers that prefer less expensive options generally employ 3M’s LCoS selection. DLP typically supports image displays of 5 to 50in. The resolution can be enhanced from HVGA to full WVGA. With LCoS, meanwhile, projection size can reach 64in.

As the technologies used are not yet mature, pico projector solutions continue to face issues on power consumption, thermal regulation, light engine dimensions and component costs. Raising luminous flux, in particular, is a major challenge among suppliers. So far, projector phones can support up to 15 lumens, and most are rated at
10 lumens. To resolve this, some companies are relying on systems integrators to optimize the PCB layout design and thermal reliability.

Even with these concerns, Taiwan makers are optimistic about the industry’s growth in the years ahead. They believe the projected drop in light engine costs will accelerate R&D and boost production. Young Optics estimates the component will fall to $30 in 2012 from the current rate of more than $50.

Climbing demand from pocket projectors, mobile phones, digital cameras and head-up displays for car use is also driving development. The second category is forecast to take up the bulk of module shipments in coming years. Statistics from In-Stat indicate there will be 20 million devices with embedded pico projector solutions by 2014, 90 percent of which will be for cell phones. Information from DisplaySearch, meanwhile, reveals that shipments of embedded or dedicated projectors for digital cameras, mobile phones and other portable devices will surpass those of stand-alone units by 2014 as power consumption, size, brightness and price are improved. Embedded-type pocket projectors are forecast to hit 97 million units and $5 billion by 2018.

Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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