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Willie Jones covers transportation for IEEE Spectrum, and the history of technology for The Institute.

At the Mobile World Congress that took place from 15–18 February in Barcelona, Texas Instruments announced the commercial launch of a chip that will allow even the thinnest flip-style cellular handsets to feature miniature projectors. These so-called pico projectors can create 640-by-360-pixel images as big as 50 inches diagonal. TI's latest digital light processor, or DLP, chip exploits the company's MEMS technology, whereby millions of tiny moveable mirrors reflect red, green, and blue light from LEDs onto a wall or curtain.

The chips will also start appearing in digital cameras this year, which means no more crowding around someone's SLR to see the shots he or she just took.

Earlier-generation chips using TI’s digital light-processor technology are already making their way into larger handsets and freestanding projectors. The freestanding units, which are the size of a deck of playing cards, let people travel with all they need for business presentations or can be used as add-ons to media players, gaming consoles, and laptop computers.

For more on what's out there and what's to come, take a look at an IEEE Spectrumvideo podcast featuring palm-size projectors put through their paces.



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