100″ Projections onto the Wall – iTunes + ShowWX

•June 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last night, I borrowed a high end SLR camera, took the mirror off the wall, and projected brilliant 100″ movies from my iPhone.  A 100 inch diagonal happens to be the perfect size for this wall and is the maximum projection size recommended for the ShowWX projector. Recently, I’ve been asking the ShowWX to perform beyond its recommended limits.  Watch this HD example, though, if you want to see the projector perform in its intended environment.  The colors are vibrant, image is bright, and I am more than happy with the results!

about my camera setup:  Recorded with a Canon 5DmarkII SLR camera and 20mm F2.8 lens.  Unlike most other video recorders, I am able to use this setup with the lens wide open to record a brighter image which is closer to the real thing.  During recording, the camera leaves the aperture alone and automatically changes the ISO setting to compensate for changes in lighting.  Any vignetting you see (aka spotlight effect) is an artifact of the camera lens and is not present in the projected images.  The scanning lines and graininess are also artifacts.  Occassionally, you will hear a “clicking” noise during the video as I attempt to focus the image in the dark.


Immersive Gaming – iPhone 3GS plus ShowWX refined!

•May 16, 2010 • 9 Comments

DIY rig for immersive gaming and recordingRecently, I connected an iPhone with built in compass to Microvision’s laser projector, the ShowWX.  Within moments, I found myself projecting a 360 degree immersive environment.  Thanks to the infinite focus of the ShowWX, I found that I could project onto walls of varying distances and remain engrossed in the game!  The iPhone’s compass and accelerometers permitted me to spin throughout the room and project the appropriate perspective in a surprisingly accurate manner.  Indeed, some of you may have already seen my Youtube video which demonstrates this concept.  Within 24 hours of its debut, the video spread throughout tech blogs around the world.  I believe that the quick success of this demonstration shows the large potential for immersive projection in a mobile environment.  Indeed, that future is here as Intel has been promoting Microvision’s prototype projector gun at it’s Extreme Masters gaming tournaments around the globe.

Before running out and buying an iPhone, pico projector, and immersive game like Sky Siege, there are a few things you need to know.  At the time of this writing, the iPhone 3GS is the only Apple brand phone or iPod which has an electronic compass.  Because Apple restricts video out capabilities, it is necessary to jailbreak the phone and download an application which will allow gaming projection.  Though jail breaking is not illegal, it is discouraged by Big Brother.  Needless to say, jail breaking is to be attempted at one’s own risk.  Additionally, you will need a pico projector which connects to the phone.  I chose Microvision’s laser projector, the ShowWX, because it does not require any focusing… ever!  The lasers constantly scan or paint the image via a very fast mems mirror.  Unlike today’s standard projectors, the ShowWX has no lens and has no need for a focus ring.  The vibrant colors of lasers are also quite impressive.  The ShowWX currently sells for $550 here in the US.  Third, you will need an immersive game.  Unfortunately, there are very few games which incorporate compass positioning.  In my opinion, Sky Siege from Simbiotics fits the bill perfectly and blows me away with its graphics and high paced action.  All that packed into a $3 iPhone application!  Mark Sagar, software engineer at Simbiotics, says that “The algorithms in Sky Siege to get the phone to orient robustly and smoothly without gimbal lock etc. are state of the art and the math is pretty tricky.”  As this type of gaming hits the mainstream, I am confident that more developers will join the effort to incorporate this technology.  Games with black backgrounds could be particularly striking with projectors.  Because the ShowWX scans its image, it paints absolutely no light in black areas of an image.  In essence, a game character in a black scene would appear on a wall as if he was a part of the room, a virtual hologram of sorts.

This year, a growing number of mobile devices with embedded projectors and compasses are coming to market.  Companies are investing millions to stream media content and games to these devices, increasing the demand for larger displays.  Certainly, there are thousands of creative uses yet to be designed.  Just months ago, skeptics doubted the usefulness of a compass because it was just a redundant way to track direction in already GPS enabled phones!  Most people are also unaware of the existence of small pico projectors, let alone ones with lasers! 

As exciting as these technologies are, their efficiency and functionality will continue to improve.  I was quite pleased with the tracking ability of the compass, but it does occassionally get off course or “jerky” and require resetting.  This will improve, however, as mobile devices continue to enhance their positioning with GPS location and triangulating via cell towers.  Pico projectors like the ShowWX are a first generation device and will continue to improve while their price drops.  Microvision has announced that its newer projector modules are even more power efficient and are already in the hands of mobile device makers who seek to embed them in their products.  Once gaming friendly projectors like the ShowWX are embedded into mobile devices, I will be first in line to buy one.  While I wait, I might as well paint the walls of my house white and get rid of all the windows!

More examples of immersive reality gaming…

•May 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The iPhone is not the only means for achieving 360 immersion.  For months, Microvision has been demonstrating its gaming gun and just last week, software engineer Nirav Patel showed us his prototype using a modified Wii remote…

Immersive Gaming Project Gone Viral

•May 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been one week since I posted my first video demonstrating immersive gaming projection with an iPhone 3GS (embedded compass) and ShowWX laser projector (infinite focus).  Based on its success, I am putting a couple other ideas on hold for now to focus on this idea.  At the time I write this, my video appears on Youtube’s first page when browsing for ‘most popular’ and ‘most viewed’ Science & Technology vids!  Apparently, it is equally or more popular throughout much of the rest of the world.  Here are some of the “Honors” Youtube has placed on this video for the week.

#59 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Germany
#37 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Australia
#38 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Canada
#30 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – United Kingdom
#35 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Ireland
#38 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – India
#19 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – New Zealand
#33 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Israel
#23 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology
#49 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Spain
#28 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – France
#14 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Italy
#44 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Netherlands
#20 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Poland
#10 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Russia
#93 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Czech Republic
#68 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Science & Technology – Sweden
#94 – Top Favorited (This Week)) – Science & Technology

Here’s what all the hype is about.  If I had known the stir it would create, I would have put a bit more effort into its debut.  I’d love to keep this idea of mobile immersive projection alive, so I appreciate your comments here and on Youtube.  It will encourage hardware and gaming developers to improve on this technology and bring it to the masses!

Theater Experience from Handheld Projector

•May 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The first thing I did after receiving my ShowWX pico projector at the end of April was to take it to my home theater and project a movie onto our vinyl theater screen.  I was immediately impressed that I could comfortably watch 80 inch movies!  Unlike my larger projector, this one is also completely silent with no fans.  Sure, the image is not as bright as a large projector would be, but the fact that a small handheld device could do this just blew me away.  That was the day that the wheels started turning, the day I saw the extreme potential for this device.  Here’s the first video I made with my new projector…

Hello Pico Projector Fans!

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Ever since I learned about pico projectors last summer, I’ve been eager to see them become integrated into our daily lives.  I am filled with creative ideas about how these devices could be used.  Standard bulky and noisy projectors have been a part of our culture for decades and it is tough to break free of some of the stereotypes we place on them.  The fact that a projector could weigh one ounce, be less than the size of a quarter, and require minimal power consumption is just too phenomenal for much of our brains to comprehend!  In March, I bought my first laser projector from Microvision, the ShowWX and I am thrilled with it!  In fact, I love it so much that I have purchased stock in their company and I feel I must divulge that information since all of my videos to date are essentially demonstrations of their product’s capabilities.  I do not have any other ties to the tech industry.  The purpose of my blog is to demonstrate the creative ways in which pico projectors can be used and to report on tech developments from time to time.  Check back often for video and blog updates and please let me know of  your own pico projects!

At the bottom of the right column of videos, click on “see all videos” to see the rest.  I appreciate any constructive comments that you leave.

Thanks!……     Ethan Janson