These Fraunhofer microprojectors are still quite a ways off from being implemented into real phones, but the technology is certainly interesting. Based on an insect’s compound eye, the projector is a wafer of tiny LEDs that can twist and turn depending on position. This means there is no “keystoning” and the beams striking the surface will always be “crisp and clear.”
“Our projector consists of hundreds of tiny microprojectors in an array, each of which generates a complete image,” said Marcel Sieler, a researcher. “This technology, known as ‘array projection,’ is modeled on nature – on the compound eye found in some insects – and with it for the first time we can create very thin and bright LED projection systems with tremendous imaging properties.”
In short, the screen geometry changes with the position of the projector. Using the phone’s position sensor the projector calculates the optimum angle for each micro-array.
By adding infrared beams to the mix, the researchers have been able to make the screens touch sensitive, allowing you to tap, swipe, and select items on any surface. Because the arrays are very small you could feasibly stuff these into a phone or even a smart surface that interacts directly with a mobile device.
The company will display the system this month but don’t expect it in your phones for a while. The future, as they say, is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.