Well, really the sharks are projected with lasers but I couldn’t resist the super villainy visual of “sharks with lasers.”

At the end of my OLED post I promised to cover other illumination advances at CES this year. Laser-based illumination was used in a variety of applications.

The basics of this technology are: a directionally controlled laser either strikes a display surface to scan an image quickly or the laser stimulates another material (typically a phosphor) that then emits a particular color. For example, Prysm combines a violet light laser with a phosphor panel to create a fairly low-energy video cube platform for large format display applications (something I understandably track closely given Mersive’s ability to create any-size display).

Using the same approach, I’ve seen companies use a laser that is directed and then focused at particular points in space to illuminate a 3D volume of plasma bodies that then generate light. The effect is a true 3D display without the need for glasses.

Laser illumination has some great advantages over other light source technologies, including OLED.

– A laser typically has 50,000+ hours of life
– It can be powered with very small currents
– The laser is a point light source that is steered, so it is basically able to focus anywhere it hits.

As I’ve pointed out in a previous post, these factors make laser an ideal technology for pico projectors.

Of course all things also have some disadvantage. The biggest downside of a laser source is known as “speckle”. Speckle is a physical phenomenon that occurs when the exact same wavelength is emitted by a light source but the light waves are phase-shifted or have different amplitudes. As a result, those waves together create random energy output. This results in a visual “speckle” image on the screen.

I am not aware of a good way to currently solve this problem that is commercially viable, but it is being looked at by a large number of very-smart people so I am sure it will be addressed over time.

There were a few other less main stream displays at CES related to lasers worthy of mention:

A low-cost laser display that generates raster-scan images on a glass surface. Presumably this approach is focused on filling digital signage applications.

– Low-cost projected interfaces.  Lasers can also be used as part of very low-cost user interface displays.  I used to carry a tiny foldout Bluetooth keyboard to support ad hoc meetings when I’m on the road.  I may switch to a laser-projected keyboard for the Tablet I carry.  This one looks particularly nice.

– And of course, the laser-projected sharks!

About Christopher Jaynes

Jaynes received his doctoral degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he worked on camera calibration and aerial image interpretation technologies now in use by the federal government. Jaynes received his BS degree with honors from the School of Computer Science at the University of Utah. In 2004, he founded Mersive and today serves as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Prior to Mersive, Jaynes founded the Metaverse Lab at the University of Kentucky, recognized as one of the leading laboratories for computer vision and interactive media and dedicated to research related to video surveillance, human-computer interaction, and display technologies.

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