How Digital Light Processing is Slowly Conquering The TV Market
By Mitchell Medford
Digital Light Processing can be considered as the pinnacle in science and technology that has focused its resources on the gigantic possibilities in improving digital entertainment. You may wonder, what is Digital Light Processing, and how it will help, or better yet, change digital entertainment. Here's a sneak peak on the what's and how's of Digital Light Processing.
Digital Light Processing was originally developed in 1987 by Texas Instruments scientist, Larry Hornbeck. Hornbeck had been trying experiments on how to manipulate reflected light since 1977, and developed the Digital Micromirror Device. Five years after Hornbeck's development of the Digital Micromirror Device, Texas Institute started to explore the commercial possibilities of Digital Micromirror Device. After a year of intensive development, TI named its new technology as Digital Light Processing or DLP for short. Their next step was making a separate group to further develop the commercial display applications of DLP. Their new group was aptly named, DLP Products division.
The prototype for the Digital Light Processors was seen for the first time in 1994. With the recognition of how promising the new technology could be, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose Digital Light Processing to project films on the Oscars. This was also the first time were the three-chip DLP technology was introduced to Hollywood.
The first ever release of DLP in public was in 1999, in the release of the George Lucas' movie "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace." After DLP's successful release, over two million DLP subsystems were shipped by December 2002.
The achievements of the Digital Light Processing products were also recognized when it was awarded with two Emmy awards. One was for broadcast excellence in 1998 and on 2003 for technology and engineering.
How does DLP, or Digital Light Processing work? DLP is basically a nanotechnological transformation of the basic survival technique of using a mirror to signal for help. You may wonder how such an advanced system could be compared to something so basic. Let me explain. The concept on both applications is the same, by shining a controlled series of light flashes on a target you are able to send out a message. The mirror on DLP's case is a part of an optical semiconductor which is the DMD also known as a Digital Micromirror Device. The DMD chip contains not only 1 but millions of microscopic mirrors each having the size of 16 micrometers or less than five times smaller than a human hair.
The DMD chip works by translating graphic signals into a corresponding mirror. By adding a projection lens and a light source, the mirrors are able to reflect any image on any available surface. The mirrors create light or dark images when they are tilted from a light source. This is accomplished by tilting two tiny hinges attached to each mirror.
With the advantage of smooth jitter free images, no burn-in effect experienced from plasma televisions, good color depth and contrast, and being smaller, thinner and lighter than the CTR-based options, Digital Light Processing is rapidly becoming a major player in the rear projection television market. Although Texas Institute remains the sole developer of this technology, many companies that have seen the capabilities and the promise of DLP have secured licenses with Texas Institute to market products that are based and developed from the DMD chipset.
About the Author
Mitchell Medford is an author and product consultant for several consumer electronics manufacturers. Visit his websites for more information on digtial light processing (DLP) and satellite TV.
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