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Small-screened smartphones project large-scale images with world's smallest projector

The small screens on smartphones and portable electronic devices are not well-adapted for group viewing sessions but in the future, these compact consumer electronics products may integrate tiny projectors that make showing off your latest holiday photos to a big group of people as easy as switching off the lights.

Semiconductor manufacturer and MEMS sensor supplier STMicoelectronics and its partner bTendo Ltd. are jointly developing the world's smallest Pico Projector - a tiny, inexpensive projector designed to be used in smartphones and portable consumer-electronics devices where size and price are important factors in determining which features are included and which are left out.

"With today's advanced smart phones, people carry huge amounts of movie clips and photos in their pockets, yet find it difficult sharing it with others due to the tiny display. Adding projection capabilities into the mobile devices will enable users to easily share their media with others - any place, on any surface, at any time," explains STMicroelectronics in a February 28 press release.

The projector measures in at less than 6mm high and takes up less than 2.5cm3 in volume. It offers focus-free projections with sharp crisp images and vivid colors that are "superior to current pico projection solutions" in the market.

It's not the first time projectors have been incorporated into smartphones or consumer electronics products - Samsung showed off the world's first Android projector phone, the Samsung Beam, during Mobile World Congress in 2010 and Nikon started shipping its Coolpix S100pj digital camera with a built-in 10 lumen LED pico projector in 2009 - but the decreasing size and price of the new projector modules mean that pico projectors may soon become as common as built-in cameras in tomorrow's smartphones.