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Pico-projectors to dominate laser projection market

13 Dec 2007

Applications requiring low-power lasers are expected to drive growth in the laser projection market, according to the latest report from Insight Media.

The first application to use laser projectors is expected to be rear-projection television (RPTV), driven primarily by the price and availability of lasers. That's according to market analyst Insight Media, who also predicts that the largest single market will be pico-projectors – with sales projected to reach millions by 2012.

“The first pico-projectors will be available in 2008 and by 2012 the sales are likely to be in the millions.”

The report, entitled "2007 Laser Projection Systems: A study of the use of lasers as an illumination source for projection systems', predicts that applications requiring the lowest power lasers will drive growth in the laser projection market.

"RPTV is the first target for laser projectors, in part because they require the lowest power lasers of any current projection market," report author, Matthew Brennesholtz, told optics.org. "A rear-projection TV set requires about 3 W output each of red, green and blue, and the price for the set of three lasers needs to be in the $150 range."

The largest market is expected to be pico-projectors, tiny projectors that are small enough to be integrated into cell phones. "This market currently does not exist, so forecasting it was difficult," explained Brennesholtz. "The first pico-projectors will be available in 2008 and by 2012 sales are likely to be in the millions. These projectors require low-power lasers, typically on the order of 100-200 mW/color."

Mitsubishi is expected to be a leading player in the laser projector market. "Mitsubishi is planning to announce an RPTV product at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas in January 2008," commented Brennesholtz. "However, since the RPTV market is declining, no-one wants to rely on it exclusively. At the laser supply end, Novalux and their manufacturing partners Oerlikon, Young Optics and Seiko-Epson seem to be taking the lead."

The report highlights a wide variety of front projector markets that are expected to grow. This includes consumer and professional front projectors ranging from 5 lm pico-projectors to 30,000 lm large-venue projectors.

In terms of how laser projector technology is expected to evolve, Brennesholtz anticipates that price will be a key factor. "Laser projection will be introduced at a premium, maybe as much as $1000," he commented. "I expect that this premium will eventually be reduced to perhaps nothing. Since lamps for a projector are in the order of $30-$50, the price challenge for lasers is severe."

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