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Laser technology is changing the way films are projected – now in theaters, next in homes.
Image from Barco
For over six decades, xenon lamps have been the standard for use in theater and home projectors. An alternative solution using lasers may make the prevalent technology a thing of the past. The products known as Laser Illuminated Projectors (LIPs) are already available for commercial use.
There are two types of LIPs, differentiated by brightness levels: High Brightness RGB LIPs deliver more than 60,000 lumens of brightness and will be used in premium and large-screen theaters, and Blue Pumped Phosphor (BPP) LIPs generate about 6,000 lumens for usage in smaller theaters. Household names such as Sony, NEC, IMAX, and Casio are producing models now.
Benefits of Laser Projectors
One of the main benefits of lasers over traditional xenon lamps is their high spatial brightness. Lasers have the unique property of emanating light from a highly parallel, or collimated, source while having minimal spread. Think of the laser pointer you use to tease your cat: the beam is concentrated to a pretty specific, single point as opposed to, say, an incandescent bulb where the light is more spread out. The technical term for this spread is called theétendue, in case you want to impress your friends at a cocktail party! In lasers, less spread is desirable since the beam will be more focused and thereby more efficient. In the 60,000-lumen models this results in brightness that’s two to three times higher than xenon lighting.
Another significant feature of lasers is their extremely long lifetimes, lasting up to 100,000 hours in RGB LIPs and diminishing very little over this time. At full power, these lasers typically lose only 20% of their energy after 30,000 hours, which is considered end-of-life at that power. BPP projectors are down 25% in 10,000 hours.
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