Monthly Archives: December 2014

SIO, the projector that is going to replace your clock.

We love checking out websites like kick-starter and indie-gogo because it’s a great opportunity to find some interesting projector concepts that keep reminding us how many possibilities there are for integrating pico projectors into every-day products.  One of the products we recently saw impressed us, and it’s name is SIO.

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SIO is a replacement for your wall clock, but it does so much more, like the other smart products we’ve been seeing come out of the woodwork SIO is supposed to take an everyday object, a clock, and basically add a processor that allows that object to process data and therefor have many more functions than it originally did.  Objects like this are being dubbed “Smart” and a few of them are already on the market, such as the smart-phone, the Nest smart-thermostat, and even smart-televisions to give a few examples.

The SIO is about the same size as an ordinary wall clock, and mounts the same way however instead of having hands like a clock it has small LED projectors integrated into the 4 sides of it.  These projectors are very low grade to reduce the cost and can only project text, and in 4 different colors, Red, Green, Blue, and Purple however what they display is really cool.

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It can also link to your smart-phone or computer via WIFI or Bluetooth connection and gathers data from an app installed on either device.  The SIO app gathers information from your phone or computers calendar, e-mail client/texting app, clock, to-do list, and even what is currently playing on your music app, it then tramsits this data to the SIO via wireless connection and the SIO projects this information around it in circular fashion on the wall.  The SIO app is planned to be available on all major smartphone operating systems including Windows Phone, Android, and IOS.

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The SIO also has a “Star” projection mode however we are not entirely sure what this does.  In the diagrams it shows that there is a camera located on the body that is used for “Star projection” however there is no mention of what this actually is.  It is also shown in the picture of the app, which leads us to believe that it is some sort of a mode it can enter.  Our gut tells us that this is basically a light sensing camera that can tell when the room becomes dark and then tells the SIO to start projection dots or images of stars on the wall, although we cannot fully confirm this until we have more information.

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Although there is a brief mention of speakers in the diagram we had originally thought that these may be small speakers to produce beeps or some sort of confirmation noise when the SIO received a command however recently it has come out that these will actually be high quality speakers that are capable of playing music at least at a decent quality, when set up with your music app the SIO will also act as a wall mounted blue-tooth speaker that can be transmitted to from anywhere in the room.  The SIO is also smart enough to jump to another smart phone that has previously paired to it in the event that it loses connection to its current device.  This allows people who want to use it in their home or office where there are multiple people can do so by simply enabling/disabling bluetooth.

That being said we’re really excited about this product, it is said on their indie-gogo page that the first prototypes will be appearing sometime within the next 3 months as well as the app so perhaps a hands-on review of this product is not far off, we hope not anyways.  The SIO should retail somewhere in the area of $150-$200 CAD which we think is a totally reasonable price for a product of this caliber.  There are definitely still questions that we have about the SIO such as how it can charge or if it even has a battery but we’re sure that we’ll be getting more information soon as the prototype nears completion.

Check out the SIO on Indie-gogo for yourself and if you think it’s a cool product you should consider donating.  Donations to products like these are often the difference between them existing and not existing: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sio-your-led-projector-agenda

LED Holiday Decorations and projectors, how are they related?

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holidays ahead people all over the world are starting to get in the spirit of the holidays regardless of which one they celebrate.  For those of us who celebrate the holidays however this is generally the time to cover your house in lights and spike up your electric bill.

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Neighborhood competitions are popping up everywhere employing a vast selection of different light sources to make sure that their house is the biggest beacon for Santa’s sleigh.  By now you may be wondering, how does this have anything to do with projectors?  I thought this was a projector blog.  Although holiday lights and projectors may seem completely unrelated, they’re really not, in fact one of the newer products this year employ simple projection technology to create really cool lighting effects.  In this post we’re going to be reviewing some of these new products and try to give some foresight into how advancements with technology in holiday lights could actually effect Pico and other LED projectors in a big way.

The first thing we want to cover is LEDs, traditionally a string of holiday lights consisted of about 10-20 incandescent bulbs on a wire that was run through a single fuse at the end of the string.  This technology has been used on most holiday lights for over 60 years.  This system has improved greatly over time, in the beginning the lights actually fused off of each other which meant that if one light went out, all of them did.  With the invention of adding a fuse to the line a single light could go out, however if the fuse went out all the lights would still not function, there was also the matter of cords getting tangled in the storage box and having to untangle them before use, flaking color tint on older bulbs, and of course burnt out or broken bulbs that needed replacing.  Despite all of these hindrances it didn’t stop people from putting up lights on their house and tree every year to get into the holiday spirit.  A few years ago the introduction of the LED made its way into Christmas light technology, suddenly all of the incandescent holiday lights of the past seemed very inefficient as the LED bulbs require far, far less energy than the incandescent to run.   The major disadvantage at first was the harsh light that the LEDs produce, many people prefer the soft glowing light that the older bulbs created however recently by changing the patterns and type of plastic used in the lenses for the bulbs companies have been able to create LEDs that can give off an almost incandescent “soft-light” that many users look for.  With the even newer invention of “tangle-free” lines it has made the switch to LEDs an even more favorable choice for many people who don’t like untangling wires and also want to save on their electricity bill.

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(New tangle free light strand)

                Now how does this relate to Pico projectors?  The LED, or Light Emitting Diode, has been around for a good amount of time, in fact they were invented in 1927 and finally practically produced in 1962, although for the first 50 years of their existence the LED was very… dim to say the least.  They were commonly used as replacements for small incandescent bulbs in applications where indicator or warning lights were needed or in applications where the lighting source did not need to be especially bright such as in digital clocks.

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(An early model LED)

 

Due to this reduced brightness, using them in an application such as a holiday light or a projector really didn’t make sense because the incandescent bulbs were so much brighter and more cost effective.  With the turn of the Millennia we started to see some great improvements in LED technology where they were starting to get brighter and brighter but also cheaper and cheaper.  Eventually it hit a point where the LED made sense to put into devices such as TV’s, Light Bulbs, Laptops, projectors, and even holiday lights.  As Pico projectors and LED TV’s started to emerge into the market they brought with them a high demand for brighter LEDS that could create a brighter image on the wall for the user.  Big LED/Lighting companies have been constantly coming out with improvements to LEDs to make them brighter and more energy efficient, and over time this technology has allowed Pico projectors to actually rival the brightness of some of their incandescent competitors.  With the improvements in technology for the projectors and TV’s also came improvements for LEDs in every day applications, even the ones that are used in holiday lights.  With LEDs that can produce upwards of 1000 lumens now it has made it much easier for companies to harness this technology and create holiday lights that not only rival the older incandescent bulbs in brightness but also in the quality of the light being produced.  Different elements used in the LED source can affect how soft/harsh the light is and effectively create an experience almost identical to the ones offered by the older bulbs.  Literally as more people get into the holiday spirit and decorate their houses with these LED bulbs it creates a higher demand for the LEDs used, this means that the big companies making these LEDs are going to put more money into researching them to come out with a better product that can be used in holiday lights and also be translated into improving the technology harnessed by projectors.

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(A modern bright LED)

                Although they are not directly related, improvements in the same technology field are important for everyone involved because it opens up opportunities to improve technology in ways that we never thought were possible before and LEDs are not the only ones getting a boost from technology used in holiday decorations, lasers too are getting some attention this year with the popular laser projection ball that many of you have probably already seen displayed at the local hardware store or even seen employed in your neighborhoods.

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The general idea behind it is red and green laser units that shine a laser into basically a prism and then dispersed as small red/green dots all over whatever they are pointed at.  Even this is a great improvement in laser technology however not so much in brightness as it is cost effectiveness.  To have a green and red laser in a consumer grade product probably would have cost hundreds of dollars in the past whereas now these units can be purchased for as low as $20 which means that there have been vast improvements in the production and technology behind creating a laser.

Here is an image of what the units that project these lasers look like.

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We’ll be back on projectors with our next post, we thought it might be fun to take things out of the box with this post and talk about some of the ways that technology used in different markets can benefit one another greatly with just an increase in demand or a breakthrough in the way that something is implemented.  Realistically brighter holiday lights are not going to directly mean better projectors, but it’s good to know that the demand is there for LED technology and that because of this we are going to be seeing LEDs employed in more areas where they make sense and also most likely see some good improvements to them over time.  So with that go out and get into the holiday spirit whether you celebrate, Kwanza, Hanukah, Christmas, or even Christmahanakwanzika we’re sure that you’ll be employing LED technology in your holiday at least in one way.

 

Happy Holidays!

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Leverage iPhone 6 Video Output Modes with a Pico Projector

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Now that the iPhone 6 has been out for a few months, we have noticed a whole bunch of users exploring different methods of utilizing its many features. One particular use has caught our eye, and it is using the iPhone 6 as a primary video output with an LED pico projector. With the influx of streaming apps and services, from Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube, to Chromecast, Kickflip, Liveleak, Ustream and more; streaming mobile video seems primed to take a bite out of cable’s stranglehold on live content. Anyone who has had to deal with cable companies customer service is ready to cut the cord, and this generation of mobile devices and applications are making it easier than ever.

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The iPhone 6 is a perfect example of a piece of hardware that can be used to set up a New Media Order, and provide users the flexibility of having a high definition video stream from anywhere. Now, couple it with a portable, powerful pico projector, and suddenly the iPhone 6 goes from having a 4″ screen to having a 100″ screen which you can display anywhere. Imagine setting up a rooftop movie night with your friends and being able to carry everything you need in your pocket. Or creating an impromptu marketing display you project onto any wall at will. Or setting up a “Face Time” conversation, Star Trek style, with a huge projection on the wall of your spaceship (or basement, whatever is available). There are limitless applications for the technology once people are aware of its capabilities and we would like to show you how easy it is to set up an iPhone 6 with a pico projector today.

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What do I need?

First, you will need an iPhone 6 and an Apple Lightning Digital A/V Adapter. The digital AV adapter is a critical piece of equipment which is what allows the iPhone to connect to a wide variety of devices using HDMI. Second, you will need an HDMI cable to connect from the adapter to whatever device you want to use your iPhone’s video output on. Third, you will need a pico projector, there are a wide variety to choose from but some of the industry leaders are AAXA Technologies, 3M, Optoma, and Phillips. Finally, you need a place to project your video, this can be a screen, a wall, a ceiling, or pretty much any flat, neutral surface.  The photo below demonstrates practically everything you need to amplify your iPhone’s screen size by 25x.

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For the purpose of our demonstration, we used an AAXA Technologies P3-X Pico Projector with native WVGA resolution and the ability to turn your 4″ iPhone screen into an 80″ screen. This is a an ideal projector because it very portable and at about 70 lumens, it runs quietly and without much heat thanks to the LED bulb technology. Also, it has a lithium ion battery which is good for about two hours of projection on a full charge. Plus, it can fit in your palm and only weighs about 10 oz pounds, making it portable enough to use practically anywhere.

Don’t just read it, see it!

Check out the video below for a demonstration of how to hook the projector up to an iPhone 6 to play Netflix, Youtube, Hulu or whatever. With technology like this, it makes cutting the cord and throwing away the TV an ever more realistic prospect.

 

Video Review of Lenovo Android Yoga 2 Pro Tablet (w/ Pico Projector)

All Hail the World’s (Second) Projection Tablet!

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We have been testing out the new Lenovo Android Yoga 2 Pro tablet in our office for a couple of weeks now, and we have been pleasantly surprised by its performance. The tablet itself has a wonderfully large 13.3″ screen which makes work/play easy on the eyes, it has insanely long battery life clocking in at about 15 hours and it is also the second tablet to offer a built in LED pico projector, which is what makes it interesting to us. The first tablet to include an LED pico projector was the Nokia LumiTab, which came out a couple of years ago. The LumiTab’s projector was really quite weak, and never really gained much traction with customers who were able to better satisfy their projection needs from existing devices on the market. Lenovo was hoping to change that with their new design, and make the “Tablet Projector” a thing going forward.

We decided to try something new in the office today and asked our intern to make a video review of the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Tablet with a built in pico projector. Here is what he turned in, try not laugh:

As you can see, the tablet itself runs well, looks great, and . However, the projector aspect of the tablet just isn’t very strong. Perhaps we had a defective unit, because the focus slide on the tablet was almost impossible to work, and it would sometimes take 2-3 minutes of adjusting the slider to achieve a serviceable focus. It didn’t really have enough lumens to be effective in any situation with ambient light, and I wouldn’t ever try to project text using the tablet, it would just be too hard to read from any further than a few feet away. We are really interested in seeing more companies take the plunge to start including pico projectors in their tablets and laptops going forward. The technology is rapidly evolving, and it will only become smaller and cheaper in the next few years.