Digital Projection’s new HIGHlite LASER projector is said to offer a 20,000 hour lifespan to support its use in high-demand situations such as 24/7 applications.
Over the course of the past several months however, the notion of a laser-based projector has evolved from the realm of science fiction fantasy to reality through the efforts of manufacturers like the Atlanta-based company Digital Projection (DP).
With the introduction of the HIGHlite LASER projector, DP says it has addressed the issues that have plagued the development of laser-based projection products to provide dealers with a high lumen solution that’s capable of producing a wide color gamut and a low maintenance levels that saves users money through its lifetime cost of ownership value.
Explaining the HIGHlite LASER projector in greater detail, DP’s executive team of Mike Levi, president of DP Inc., and Dermot Quinn, director of product development, for DP, Inc., tell CE Pro and Commercial Integrator, the product represents a new era of engineering for the Georgia company.
How long have you been working on the laser-based product and what were DP’s biggest obstacles in developing a laser-based projector that could meet its performance and reliability standards?
DP: Our laser development has been ongoing for years. The primary obstacles related to assuring a long and stable life for the illumination system. Other obstacles involved its high brightness and exceptional color capabilities. In short, the obstacles were in developing a way to truly extract all the benefits that proper implementation of laser illumination promised.
Also challenging was finding a way to bring the cost structure to a level where a production product could be made available at a price that delivered clear value over other solutions in the market. We believe we have achieved this objective with the HIGHlite LASER.
Laser-based projectors have been an up-and-coming product category with companies like IMAX working to develop products for mass usage. What has happened in the field of laser technologies over the past couple years to make the DP product possible?
DP: Pure laser has great benefits in terms of color gamut, optical coupling into the DMDs and ultimately very high luminance. Moreover, the work continues on that front and we have seen a number of working prototype demonstrations. However, for the overwhelming majority of applications, pure laser illumination, as it exists today and for the foreseeable future, is not practical in terms of cost, size and power consumption. Perhaps that will change at some point, but we are not there yet.
The innovation we created in this field of laser illumination was in harnessing the lasers as both a light source and a stimulation source—a hybrid system. That approach allows us to utilize lower power lasers, which are more cost effective and are already in large-scale production. That innovation was key.
How involved was Texas Instruments (TI) in the development of the product and how would you describe the performance characteristics of the product? Does it perform like a LED product in terms of its color palette and its perceived brightness of color?
DP: Texas Instruments has championed the development of laser-phosphor illumination systems and has shared its enthusiasm and knowledge with its partners, including Digital Projection. We are honored to have TI’s involvement through the development of this new illumination platform.
LED illumination offers amazing color gamut, life and stability, but is presently limited to applications where high luminance is not the key driver. Our laser phosphor illumination system has a color gamut more than equal to the very best conventional lamps but with stability similar to LED and operational life of 20,000 hours or longer. This is 10 to 40 times greater than what is offered by projection lamps, depending on the lamp technology and wattage.
For customers employing the projectors 40 hours per week, 20,000 hours equates to nearly 10 years of illumination system life. For those applications, it is essentially a lifetime illumination system. For customers in 24/7 applications, 20,000 hours equates to just under 2.5 years before the laser illumination module needs to be replaced. Customers putting that many hours on projectors would have otherwise invested thousands of dollars—perhaps even tens of thousands of dollars—in replacement lamps and replacement lamp service during that 20,000-hour period. Clearly, the extensive life and stable, long-term performance of the HIGHlite LASER’s illumination system truly is game changing.