It’s a video projector, but a very small one that will sit in the palm of your hand or fit comfortably in your pocket.
A typical pico-projector
It can be used as a portable business projector, but the small size of the displayed picture — claimed to be a maximum of 60in (150cm) wide in excellent viewing conditions — means it’s really designed as an entertainment product to enable people to view video from their laptops, phones, digital cameras, iPods and other personal devices.
The terminology hasn’t settled down yet and other terms for the device exist, including palmtop projector, palm projector and, the oldest one, pocket projector. Pico-projector first appeared around 2003 but products with that name have only recently reached a performance level that makes them attractive.
Its first part, pico-, is an example of the figurative broadening in meaning of a prefix of size with a precise meaning: a millionth millionth (10-12) of some unit. In cases such as this one and picocell, a very small area of coverage in a wireless network, it loosely means something tiny of its type.
What is it? The first digital camera with a built-in pico projector — a tiny, front-mounted system that throws photos or videoclips onto any flat surface at up to 40in wide, depending on how far from the wall you hold the camera.
Sunday Times, 9 Aug. 2009.
Look for pico projectors to make their way into a wide range of other devices. Nikon has just announced a digital camera with one built-in, and mobile phone manufacturers are looking to add the technology to smart phones. In the not-so-distant future, if you want to show a presentation you will be able to leave not only the projector back at the office, but the laptop as well.
Guardian, 24 Aug. 2009.