A Petite Pico Projector For Portable Pi

A few years ago, new, innovative pico projectors, influenced by one of the TI development kits, started appearing in Kickstarter projects and other various DIY endeavours. Those projects fizzled out, most likely due to the cost of the projectors, but we got a few laughs out of it: that wearable smartphone that projected a screen onto your wrist used the same technology.

But there’s a need for a small projector, a pico projector, or in this case a femto projector. It’s the Nebra Anybeam, and it’s a small projector that uses lasers, and it comes in the form of a Raspberry Pi hat. We would like to congratulate the team for shipping the ideal use case of their product first.

The key features of this pico projector address the shortcomings of existing projectors that can fit in your pocket. This uses a laser, and there’s no bulb, and the power consumption can be as low as 3 Watts. Power is provided over a micro USB cable. The resolution of this projector is 720p, which is sufficient for a quick setup for watching a movie, but the brightness is listed as equivalent to 150 ANSI lumens, about the same as small projectors from a few years ago.

But of course the big selling point isn’t the brightness or resolution, it’s all about the smallness of the projector itself. There is a developer’s kit, a Pi Hat, a fit-in-your-pocket version with an enclosure, and a ‘monster ball’ version of the Anybeam.

26 thoughts on “A Petite Pico Projector For Portable Pi

  1. They don’t specify what the distance is for that lumen output. Double the distance, quarter the output too. I’m also trying to figure out how 30 ANSI lumens is equivalent to 150 ANSI lumens when using a laser vs a bulb…

    1. It doesn’t work quite like that. Lumen output is lumen output, regardless of distance. But yeah, the larger area you spread those lumens over, the lower the brightness of any given spot.

  2. Hey this is just another groupbuy innovation… AnyBeam HD301M1-H2 is the consumer version and the “prototype” is just a reference design / devkit called Ultimems HD301A2-H2. Looks like Ultimems is module OEM and AnyBeam is the marketing intermediary.

    Both are in production from what I can see, but as extra salt to wound, the devkit version is readily available in my country for roughly $199(throws cookie error once, just reload) http://akizukidenshi.com/catalog/g/gK-13766/

    1. Remember, Kickstarter isn’t a store, you’re providing investment funding in return for rewards.

      Looks like they’re funding the production of the pi HAT and “monster ball” versions using the existing products. At least that means there’s a fairly high chance of this product shipping if it gets funded.

      1. Well out of the two major kickstarter models, “impossible vaporware” or “repackaged tchotchke from Chinese OEMs” I’d be a lot happier pledging to the latter as you can be reasonably sure that *something* will actually ship.

    1. I disagree. It’s a product based on existing modules and technology, so there’s actually a fairly high chance of this one shipping. Laser projectors have been around for years (I have one on my desk) and this is making modest and plausible claims about the performance of the technology.

  3. Would love to see these and IR bolometers both halve in price soon. But as far as that wrist projector smartphone thing–afaik that used only the technologies of Photoshop and After Effects. There was no working prototype for that concept, and likely no credible plans for how it would work. That thing was pretty pipe-dreamy.

    Hope the projector pans out and becomes more commonplace. I got to play with lots of prototype smartphones at an old job, and there were a few with extremely impressive laser projectors, but the best ones didn’t make it to market yet. Probably will roll out and get far better and cheaper in the coming years. Wonder if they’ll have any uses in XR–is direct retinal projection (at extremely low wattages, obvs) a real thing or just something from science fiction?

    1. Problem with microbolometers is the inherent expense of complicated, delicate and low yield processes. Moreover it has to have a hard vacuum contained inside the FPA shroud. They’re slowly refining the process and it won’t be long before the chinese OEMs have non ITAR cores in glorious 30+ HZ easily available.

  4. What’s with all the “ugh, warning bells going off”, “just another fake kickstarter” bs? That TI development kit the article was talking about was a Beagle Bone cape for their low-end projector development kits years ago (and still available) and it looks like the specs are believably improved. Typical march of progress. (https://www.electronicdesign.com/embedded-revolution/building-embedded-dlp-projector-99-and-beaglebone) This doesn’t look like the usual kickstarter scam fare. Judging from their actual kickstarter page, it looks they’re not just repackaging an existing dev kit and are building their product around it. You know, like many other successful products do…

    1. Short, imprecise answer: with regular light sources, light rays travel out from the source in all directions, so the farther away from the light source you are, the more spread apart any two rays are. To counter the spread of the rays for use in things like projectors, a lens is used which causes them to change from travelling away from each other to travelling toward each other, meeting at a particular point in space which can be chosen arbitrarily by changing the distance between the source and the lens; i.e. focusing the image. With a laser, the rays are all travelling in the same direction, so any two rays will be the same distance apart no matter how far you are from the source. For the purposes of projecting a video, the width of the laser beam is enough resolution, so a lens isn’t needed; thus ‘focus-free’. (For things like laser engravers, a focusing lens is used to bring all of the energy contained in the beam to the smallest point possible.)

      Hope that helps!

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