Light projectors: From your body to cars (pictures)

Think the projector is the province of old-timey classrooms? Think again. You'll start seeing them in cars, phones, and maybe even your doctor's office.

Jessica Dolcourt
1 of 10 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Lights, chipsets, action!

A smartphone, a handheld medical device, your future car. What do they all have in common? If DLP gets its way, the answer is: one of its chipsets for projecting light onto a variety of surfaces.

The chipset maker, which is owned by Texas Instruments, has long been the driving force behind projectors. Now it's trying to get the word out about alternative devices and designs that use its technology.

2 of 10 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

In the right vein

Texas Instruments Product Manager Gina Park demonstrates how to use the VeinViewer Flex, the fifth iteration of a medical device that's been shining infrared light to track the vascular system since 2006 (back then, the machine came on wheels).

This portable, handheld tool is a noninvasive way to quickly find and evaluate the bloodline, and can even be used to monitor issues like dehydration, wound healing, and hematomas.

3 of 10 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Beam

The Samsung Galaxy Beam is one of the first commercially available smartphones with a built-in projector.

4 of 10 Josh Miller/CNET

Beam me up

Introduced about a year ago, the sturdy midrange Android device offered some projector settings for sharing presentations, photos, and even video on a screen, wall, or perhaps the side of a tent.

5 of 10 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Tablet, too

In the darkened room of the Clift Hotel where DLP demoed its partner products, you can make out Smart Devices' SmartQ U7 tablet. This slate out of China includes a pico projector capable of emitting 35 lumens, a measure of light (the Galaxy Beam can handle 15 lumens).

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Another look at the SmartQ U7

Here's another look at the 7-inch Android 4.1 tablet from the front.

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Toys are us

Now here's an idea for a toy: stick a projector in it. That way, junior can entertain himself with an informative or distracting program geared toward tots.

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Queue it up

3D printers are heating up, and DLP thinks its light-channeling chipsets have a role in this category, too. The components appear in some 3D printers to channel UV light when curing plastic resins. While even small objects will still take hours to dry, DLP says that its processor helps achieve higher resolution and finer detail in its printed pieces, like this partially articulated chess piece.

9 of 10 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Dealin' and wheelin'

We got a glimpse of DLP's plan for car consoles last month at CES when we first saw it in a concept Bentley. It uses a touch screen, but not as you know it. Instead of a capacitive film on top, an infrared (IR) camera tracks your fingertip position and direction to open apps and control music, climate, and navigation. The dials you see work as expected, but guess what? There's no circuitry behind them, only that IR camera.

10 of 10 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Dip into chips

DLP makes projector chips in a variety of sizes. The largest, its cinema chip, is instrumental in all digital Imax theaters and four-fifths of all movie screens across America. Each chipset includes an image chip that manipulates up to 8 million micro mirrors. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Beam, which uses one of the smallest chipsets, has around 300,000 micro mirrors that turn on and off. Each minuscule mirror measures 7 to 10 microns thick, about the width of 7 or 10 human hairs.

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