Watch out this year, for the rise of projectors for digital signage. And at this week’s Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas show floor (opening tomorrow), I’ve already gotten a sneak preview at several new products that will be on view at DSE, from the projector side, that might really get us thinking about the future of displays.
Flat panels are the bread and butter of the digital signage world, in terms of display. They’re not the only solution– as projection is up and coming for digital signage when larger screen sizes are needed, or displays for outdoor/high ambient light applications. But flat panels, primarily LCD panels, with their inexorable economy of scale in production costs, have filled most of the display needs in public places (where video is shown).
But this year, as energy efficiency and TCO (total cost of ownership) of projectors improves, it could give flat panels a run for their money for many applications. And this year, the most important term you need to know for projectors, is “solid state”. The past couple of years, we saw a lot of demos at trade shows of “lampless” projectors, i.e. ones that used a LED light source in place of a mercury lamp. Well, that trend is kicking in even stronger this year, but now it’s being called “solid state”, as in solid state light engines, with no traditional mercury vapor lamps.
Every projector manufacturer I talk to (not to mention Texas Instruments, and 3LCD) say that solid state is coming on strong. The momentum, to get to a place where lamp replacement costs are gone, and with instant on/off for projectors, is huge, and it will change the projection landscape. And the newest development, out of left field, is the arrival of a new hybrid LED/Laser light engine, from Casio. Casio will be showing their new technology at DSE this week
Casio’s system achieves a high output of green light, which has been considered difficult with conventional semiconductor light sources, by very efficiently converting blue laser light into green light, using the fluorescent element. A high-brightness light of 2,000 or more lumens is possible by projecting blue laser light, green light converted from blue laser light with the fluorescent element, and light emitted by a red LED through a DLP chip onto the screen. This new system from a company not normally associated with projection breakthroughs could be the biggest news this year.
Some other players to watch in this new “solid state” projection space
Christie Digital, will also be at Digital Signage Expo, showing their MicroTile product. From a product development perspective, the new MicroTile is important because it represented, this past fall, the first real introduction of a product for the commercial AV market that features a “lampless” projector. The MicroTile system consists of lightweight modular tiles that can be assembled and re-assembled into any size, shape and space, forming a continuous digital canvas with minimal 1mm seam. With LEDs rated at 65,000 hours to half brightness or nearly 7.5 years of continuous operation.
And the newest kid on the block, for “lampless” projection: Samsung. It’s been under the radar since it was first shown at the CES show in January, but I saw it recently in Austin, and it’s a product to watch, from an industry heavyweight. This is i
Samsung, FM10, LED based LCD projector. That’s right– it’s LCD, not DLP. This is a first… all the other LED-light engine “lampless” projectors out there are DLP-based (except the Cassio mentioned above which is DLP/blue laser hybrid).
The Samsung, FM10:
- rated at 1000 lumens
- Samsung claims LCD gives the best efficiency: watts used to lumens
- HDMI input
- 30000 hour life, so:
- Samsung says “acquisition cost” is $129/Lumen (1000 lumens) (compared to $31/lumen for an Epson $700 projector with 2200 lumens/4000 hour lamp life
- According to Samsung: TCO: $.04/cost/usage hour, compared to $.17 cost/usage hour for an Epson, for example, with the mercury vapor lamp
Solid State projection is coming on strong, from Samsung, Christie, Casio… and also companies as diverse as projectiondesign (who has its new iFR12 Remote Light Source projector, and also its FL32 LED-DLP projector), Digital Projection, Dell, Infocus, Sim2, LG, BenQ, and more.