Virtual Keyboards May Come to Pico-Projecting Smartphones

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Fitting a pico projector into a smartphone is a tight squeeze, but companies like Samsung have demonstrated that the technology is viable. LG now has a new spin on the pico projector, harvesting wasted light to display a virtual keyboard.

Virtual keyboards that project an image of a keyboard onto a flat surface and use a camera to sense when you touch each key-top are a bit hit-and-miss. While they provide a very compact way to transport what’s essentially a full-sized keyboard, they suffer from the same lack of tactile feedback you get when typing on a touchscreen keyboard. Even if they’re not for everyone, LG’s design plans, as revealed in a patent application, make for a novel way to get a desktop-sized computing experience out of a smartphone.

What you end up with, building a handset around LG’s projector design, is a smartphone that you could place on a desk and have it simultaneously project its display output up onto the wall in front of you, while also projecting a virtual keyboard back towards you.

Key to LG’s concept is the fact that even the best projector ends up wasting some light, otherwise to be absorbed internally instead of contributing to the projected image. Since a virtual keyboard only needs a fraction of the light produced by a pico projector, LG suggests harvesting the waste light with mirrors and redirecting it. Makes sense to us, but pico projector technology may need to mature for a few more years before we see any useful implementations of the design.

Source: US Patent & Trademark Office Application #20100302511

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bitsRead more about Stephen Schenck!