Could all the Golden-i wearable computer need to be more consumer-friendly be a dashing hat? Probably not quite - after all, there's still the rather noticeable eyepiece to take into account - but William Gerwin's Kodak Sponsored Studio project does do a better job at removing some of the geek-factor to a wearable system.
Slapping a pico-projector module into a phone isn't exactly new, but Samsung's Beam I8520 is perhaps the first that has us truly tempted. The smartphone - formerly known by its "Halo" codename - ticks plenty of the boxes many shop for handsets by: it runs Android 2.1 on a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED display with capacitive touchscreen, and has an 8.1-megapixel camera on the back complete with an LED flash. On top of Android Samsung have used their TouchWiz 3.0 UI, and while we've never been especially big fans - in comparison to other manufacture-specific software environments - the whole thing moves along at a decent lick of speed.
Of course, the real interest here is the integrated pico-projector. Samsung have used a Texas Instruments DLP module running at WVGA resolution, just like the Beam's own AMOLED display, and it's triggered by holding down a button on the right-hand side. Whatever's on the main display can be projected, and the Beam's pico has a 6 lumen brightness rating.
Pico-projectors continue to weasel their way into other gadgets, and next up could be the humble laptop. According to Monty Wong, vice president and manager of personal computing systems group at HP Taiwan, HP are planning to release a pico-projector equipped notebook that would likely have the projection module where normally the webcam is positioned.
Could AT&T be ramping up to begin shipping the pico-projector accessory for the LG eXpo? The smartphone went on sale December 7th, and is currently sold-out at AT&T's online store, but buyers have been left waiting for the optional snap-on projector; however at least one reviewer over at Geek Zone has received their sample unit.
The steady trickle of pico-projectors continues with a new model by RoyalTek, the RPJ-2000, tipped to be the first of several from the company in 2010. The RPJ-2000 uses a second-gen 3M LCoS chipset and is capable of projecting up to a 65-inch image with 14 lumens brightness and 640 x 480 resolution.
Laser pico-projector manufacturer Microvision have been showing off their latest first-person shooter prototype, which straps a PicoP projector to a gun controller and responds to movement. Players can physically turn around to move their in-game perspective, with the projector's "infinite focus" meaning that the picture is always crisp no matter that the distance between pico and wall keeps shifting.
Having teased us with the promise of availability of their SHOWWX laser pico-projector back in October, Microvision have now revealed that Vodafone Spain will be the carrier offering the portable projector. The SHOWWX is on sale now for €289 ($436) excluding tax, or for a reduced amount if you have points under the carrier's loyalty program, and it will be marketed alongside the Nokia N97 mini.
There's no sign of an official press release yet - nor a product page - but AT&T are tipped to have unveiled their latest LG smartphone, the LG eXpo. A touchscreen Windows Mobile 6.5 handset, the eXpo's secret magic is a detachable Texas Instruments DLP projector, which can be used to project videos, images and webpages.
Update: The LG eXpo product page is now live - thanks Alejandro!
Update 2: Pricing is confirmed at $199 for the LG eXpo itself (assuming a new, two-year contract and a mail-in rebate) and $179 for the pico-projector attachment.
If you thought you'd seen it all in Nokia's Vision of 2015 video, book a flight to Tokyo and stop by Fujitsu's offices there. They haven't seen to have got the memo that modular, wirelessly-connected mobile phones with integrated pico-projectors are meant to be the stuff of futurology, not fact, and as such have produced a working version of their F-04B cellphone. Akihabara have been for a play, and claim it's a brilliant multifunctional device.
We're so used to seeing pico-projectors integrated into futuristic concepts that have little chance of shipping, that to hear about a product actually headed to shelves is quite unusual. BeamBox's MiLi Evolution iPhone Projector looks like the sort of thing some industrial designer would use to try to make his name, but the combination iPhone/iPod touch case, projector and charging cradle is actually expected to go up for preorder at the end of November.