The next big thing for presenters is smaller, more portable presentation gear. A new generation of these tiny, handheld devices that enable a large image to be projected onto a wall are going to be hot sellers over the next several years, according to a new report by DisplaySearch, a division of the research firm NPD Group.
These portable projectors will also be increasingly embedded in mobile devices like smartphones as well as sold as standalone devices. One key driver likely to spur presentation portability is an emerging Wi-Fi Direct specification designed to bring wireless connectivity to a range of devices, including cell phones and projectors. Devices using a test version of Wi-Fi Direct were shown at this year's Consumer Electronics Show and should start appearing in products later this year.
"Good things really do come in small packages, as pocket projectors eliminate form factor and size limitations for images in portable electronics. They are ideal devices for sharing, either for social, business or entertaining activities," Jennifer Colegrove, director of display technologies at DisplaySearch, said in a statement.
The research firm said there were over 130 new pocket projector models released last year along with the first releases of embedded projectors. But sales have been limited thus far.
"Pocket projectors still face challenges of low brightness, short battery life and high price," Colegrove said. "Continuing progress in all the technologies surrounding pocket projectors will be needed to achieve the expected growth."
That expected growth is impressive. DisplaySearch's report predicts the total pocket projector market will grow from 500,000 units and $117 million in revenues in 2009 to 142 million units and $13.9 billion in revenues in 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 70 percent for revenues and 88 percent for units.
By 2014, DisplaySearch forecasts shipments of embedded and dedicated portable projectors will surpass those of standalone units after current limitations, such as power consumption, size, brightness and price, are improved. Embedded-type pocket projectors alone will reach 97 million units and $5 billion in 2018, according to DisplaySearch.
Rick Altman, who runs a presentations training and conference business, said he's intrigued by the potential of pocket projectors and plans to start playing around with some this year to see how viable they are.
"I'm fascinated by them," Altman told InternetNews.com. "It's only a matter of time before I'll be able to go straight from my mobile phone to project a presentation. I can already manage the slides from a mobile device. I can see this now as something for an informal meeting where a small group of people in the office need to quickly meet and look at a presentation. The quality isn't there yet for the boardroom, but it's only a matter of time."
At Altman's next Presentation Summit event this October, one session, titled "Honey, I Shrunk Everything" will look at how the tools needed for an effective presentation are increasingly becoming more portable, including projectors, speakers and mobile computers.
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