On March 14, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Samsung that reveals a pico projector built into a smartphone. More specifically, the patent covers an apparatus and method for projector navigation based on movement of a handheld projector. Whether this particular patent application supports the Galaxy Beam smartphone that debuted a year ago or the next generation of such is unknown at this time. However, the live navigation feature of this pico-projector would strongly suggest that it is indeed a next generation feature.
Samsung clarifies its new pico-projector navigation system this way: "If a typical handheld projector is physically moved, the projected image simply moves accordingly, resulting in no direct effect on user interface or navigation techniques. Thus, in order for a user to see and access all of the navigable menus or interface elements contained within a projected image, the entire image must be projected. For example, if a user wants to interact with a fairly complex interface, such as CNN's homepage, the user would have to project the image of the entire homepage in order to be able to view each navigable option.
Due to optical constraints of many projectors, the projected image would need to be quite large in order to see the details and navigable parts of the homepage. This results in a very large projected image, requiring the user to have a fairly large surface to project on.
In accordance with this disclosure, a user could virtually lock down the projected image's position, and by physically moving the projector, reveal more information off-screen of the original image. By locking down the position, software may determine the movement and orientation of the projector and correspondingly offset the image, and make it appear as if the image were fixated on the surface. This gives the user the ability to reveal more of the image that is off-screen, by simply moving the projector. The user can return to the original view by simply moving the projector back in its original position.
To review this pico-projector invention, see patent application 20130063337. Another detailed pico-projector patent filing from Samsung was published two weeks ago that illustrated more of Samsung's advancements in this area of technology.