Forging the Pathway to Smart, Small Form Factor Devices

The Intel® Joule™ System on Module has features honed for the small form factor market that lend size, weight and power consumption benefits to projected display, interactivity with projected images, and 3D sensing.

Today’s musts for personal electronics pack a great deal of punch into otherwise small packages. Among these necessities is the desire for mobility and the availability of devices that are not only smart and sleek, but portable. On-the-go lifestyles are requiring technology component manufacturers to focus more and more on small form factor product design.

Figure 1: Convenience in following recipes or instructions is one of myriad reasons viewing a larger projected display is helpful, but users also want to avoid devices that gulp power or pack on weight.

Figure 1: Convenience in following recipes or instructions is one of myriad reasons viewing a larger projected display is helpful, but users also want to avoid devices that gulp power or pack on weight.

In addition to mobility, consumers are seeking more functionality from their electronics devices, but expect it in increasingly streamlined forms. Meeting these needs in competitive markets means manufacturers must forge ecosystem partnerships and put go-to-market strategies in place. Yet rapid development and expedited product launch cycles can’t sacrifice reliability and compelling user interfaces and use cases.

MicroVision partners with companies interested in leveraging its PicoP® scanning technology (PST) to develop and manufacture high tech components and end user products that require compact display and sensing capabilities for an increasingly mobile society. PST is a technology platform based on the laser beam scanning (LBS) methodology that the company pioneered for projected display, interactivity with projected images, and 3D sensing.


Figure 2: An engine which employs MicroVision’s PicoP® scanning technology can both capture images and project images—with no distortion—on any surface, says the company.

Recently, MicroVision announced the availability of two PicoP® scanning engines (PSE) built on the PST platform specifically targeted at the mobile and IoT markets: a small form factor display engine (PSE-0403), and a short throw interactive display engine (PSE-0403sti). A sensing engine for mid-range LiDAR for industrial products is also planned.

When considering the application areas that can be tapped into with these new engine products, it’s evident that combining MicroVision’s PSE with a small computing platform would be an excellent enabler for developers looking to quickly build robust consumer products.

Enabling Innovation

In the development of the PSE-0403 small form factor display engine and PSE-0403sti short throw interactive display engine, MicroVision recognized that combining these engines with other specialized small form factor solutions, such as the Intel™ Joule™ compute module, can enable new, compelling products that can be rapidly brought to market.

A hallmark of MicroVision’s scanning engines is the very small size that enables consumer product OEMs to make the types of sleek and portable devices consumers expect without sacrificing performance. MicroVision’s small form factor display engine is only 6 mm thick with an overall volume of under 5 ccs. And because it is a self-contained unit that includes the laser diode light sources, MEMS scanning mirror, electronics and firmware, it can be easily integrated into products that benefit from a large screen projected display. When you add in a compact compute module like Joule, a wide variety of opportunities for smart devices opens up.

In a smartphone, for instance, the built-in display is limited in size to around five to six inches to keep the device pocket-size. Anything bigger and it becomes a phablet or tablet. With the increasing use of smartphones for video consumption, including long form video, the small screen size is tolerated because of convenience, but it is hardly ideal for watching a movie or TV show for a few hours. Add a tiny, low power consumption projection engine into the device, and suddenly the screen size can increase incrementally with the space available to project on while operating on battery. The same tiny engine can create a screen twice the size of the built-in screen—all the way up to 200 inches—and run for more than two hours without recharging. With over 50 percent of video views taking place on smartphones globally, this use case is compelling.

Figure 3: Restaurants are but one commercial use for virtual touchscreens.

Figure 3: Restaurants are but one commercial use for virtual touchscreens.

For developers, combining an all-in-one module, such as a MicroVision PSE (Figure 2), with the Intel Joule Compute Module can help reduce the time to turn ideas into products and bring them to market, while also lessening the upfront investment. Incorporating these specialized, compact modules also frees companies to focus their efforts on their areas of expertise, such as building compelling user interfaces and differentiated use cases. What’s avoided is getting entangled in, and slowed down by, hardware design and integration. In a market characterized by rapidly changing consumer behaviors and appetites for smart devices that become integral to consumers’ everyday life, how quickly you get to market with an emerging or disruptive idea can be critical to capturing consumer excitement and market share.

At MicroVision we’re seeing first hand how using the Intel Joule Compute Module for rapid prototype development benefits development efforts. We use it to evaluate product concepts, which can later become system reference designs for our customers. Customers like to see what a product might look like and get an idea of how it will function beyond just seeing the projected display in action. Building prototypes and proof-of-concept demonstration devices with other off-the-shelf components, including the Intel Joule module, enables MicroVision to meet these customer expectations.

Greater IoT Functionality

The many devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape, including robots, drones, and smart home assistants, can all be made smarter and more functional with high-end computing power and the ability to display and interact with information. Imagine how screenless touchscreen displays would provide additional usability and a whole new user experience without increasing the size or weight of the device the way a large built in LCD screen would.

The Intel Joule Compute Module is helping bring MicroVision’s new short throw interactive display engine to life. As a complementary solution to MicroVision’s PicoP® scanning engine, the Intel Joule module generates the processing power needed to run interactivity algorithms for next-generation, “beyond the screen” devices.

In going beyond the screen, developers can implement touchless gesture capabilities in consumer-facing applications like speakers, light fixtures, security alarms, or even robot assistants and other artificial intelligence devices. These combined gesture recognition and projected display technologies enable products that boast a natural user interface—eliminating the need for an LCD screen while offering extreme portability.

The same types of features can also be deployed in commercial settings. Virtual touchscreens in restaurants (Figure 3) could streamline the dining process and add entertainment value to the dining out experience, ranging from on-table menu selection and bill pay to on-demand games and other activities.

The same processing power that the Intel Joule Compute Module can provide for interactivity algorithms could also be used to enable other features, such as voice recognition and artificial intelligence. With the ability to introduce other sensor data as well, the platform opens up a wide variety of potential applications. Smart thermostats, home automation, and security centers are just a few among many possibilities. As these features are critical in the development of smart home solutions and accessories, it’s easy to see how the combination of this powerful system on module from Intel and MicroVision’s compact projection display modules can enable new and exciting applications across the growing smart home market, which is expected to reach more than $30 billion and a household penetration rate of over 60 percent by 2021.

With programs like its Developers Zone and tools like the Joule module, Intel is successfully linking inventors with suppliers of key-enabling technologies that foster new, forward-looking innovations. MicroVision is excited to be part of an ecosystem of new technologies for future-ready products in the world of mobility and IoT.

Mike_NaldrettWEBMike Naldrett is the Direct of Global Sales at MicroVision, Inc. covering the Americas and Europe. He has been at MicroVision for nearly four years with responsibility for sales and business development for automotive and consumer applications. Naldrett also leads the company’s sales operations function. Prior to joining MicroVision, he held a number of sales and marketing positions at Alps in the United States, Japan and Germany.

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