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This report details an innovation in engineering technology that lead to the development of a modern day product. The report describes the scientific and technology process used in the innovation while comparing the original product which was the basis of innovation to the new product. Later part of this report also details the marketing and financial implications of the innovative product.
Projectors play an important role in today's corporate business, home entertainment and education industry. Technologies used in projectors have evolved greatly since 1984 when the world's first LCD projector was built and introduced to the world by the famous New York inventor Gene Dolgoff.
Innovations in the LCD technology lead to 3LCD technology opening a new horizon in the projector market. This new era was pioneered by Epson who introduced the first 3LCD projectors to the world. Even though Epson retains the ownership of the 3LCD technology, marketing of this technology is carried out by a consortium of projector manufacturers holding the license to implement 3LCD technology in their products landscape.3LCD is the most prominent projection technology used in today's modern day projectors and remains to be the world's number one projection display technology with a 51 % markets share at the end of 2009.
Conventional LCD Projector (Single LCD Panel)
A single panel LCD projector consists of a single LCD having color partitioning capabilities like a dichroic mirror for the three primary colors red, green and blue. This type of a LCD projector normally consists of a field lens, a lens for projection, a liquid crystal material, a polarizer for both incoming and outgoing side. In a single panel LCD projector, the white light delivered from the arc lamp is collimated using a condenser lens. The adichroic mirror set is then illuminated using the collimated beam to project red, green and blue beams of light with suitable angles of incidence to the LCD panel. The color beams are focused onto apertures of their sub-pixels by the micro-lens array on the LCD panel.
To prevent light from leaking into the adjacent sub-pixels the illumination optics is architectured to have a mediocre size arc image. In this case some part of the open aperture will not be used; this results in poor system efficiency. To overcome this if the arc image is made large enough to use the open aperture effectively; this on the other hand could result in light leakage into the sub-pixels resulting in the image color purity being affected. Other disadvantages of a conventional one panel LCD projector includes poor uniformity and lower quality optical efficiency because of the mismatch between shapes of illuminating light beam and LCD panel active area. It needs to be noted that an alternate integrator rod approach has also been used to design an illumination system for a single panel LCD projector. This approach removes the shape mismatch problem and the inefficient usage of open aperture. However polarization conversion is not easy to implement for improving the efficiency of the system. The functioning detailed of a single panel LCD described above is indicated in Figure 1 and 2:
Figure 1 - Layout of a single panel LCD illumination system (Breault Research n.d.)
Figure 2 - Structure of the LCD panel (Breault Research n.d.)
3LCD Projector - A Technology Innovation
3LCD is an advanced innovative technology that uses 3 dedicated chips to expel vibrant, real-life like images for diverse audiences. The architecture of the 3LCD technology is such that it provides one dedicated chip for processing each of the primary colors - red, green and blue in a persistent manner. Compared to the technology used by a single-chip architecture where color is delivered sequentially, 3LCD provides full-time color resulting in true-life video and images.
A solid-state optical engine is used by 3LCD projectors to display extremely bright colors creating an incredible viewing experience. The single panel LCD technology on the other hand could result in "rainbow effect" or color break-up due to the sequential display of colors. This can result in an unpleasant distraction during viewing of images. This problem is eliminated in the 3LCD projectors.
Imaging provided by 3LCD is reliable, simple and scalable. This technology is used in large venue high-brightness projectors to portable projectors. A wide range of resolution is supported by 3LCD projectors ranging from SVGA (800x600 pixels) to wide UXGA (1920x1200 pixels).3LCD projects are available in the market with both widescreen and conventional aspect ratios.
3.1 3LCD Technology Details
White light is projected by a light source into a group of mirrors where the light is split into three basic video colors.
An image is created by each LCD receiving the electrical signal.
A prism is used to combine the three color images resulting in a full-color image compromising of thousands and thousands of colors
Finally the full color vibrant image is passed through a lens which is delivered onto a screen.
The details listed above are represented in Figure 3:
Figure 3 - 3LCD technology projection (Projector Point n.d.)
3.2 Internal Components of a 3LCD Projector Explained
The panel is appended with a glass layer to ensure no damage is caused to the TFT substrate and prevent any collection of dirt. No dust is seen on the glass which has dust-proof capabilities since when projected it's of the focus range. This is shown in Figure 4:
Figure 4 - Projection lens (3LCD n.d.)
Light is divided into three primary colors red, green and blue by using a dichroic prism which forms 3 pictures that uses these corresponding colors from the highâ€temperature poly silicon (HTPS) LCD panels. Reflection of blue and red light takes place while green light is transmitted which results in the re-composition of color and image. The prism is created by joining four triangular poles which results in one rectangular solid. A great deal of precision is necessary during the processing to ensure no dark lines or double images are created due to the misalignment of dichroic surfaces. This is shown in Figure 5:
Figure 5 - Dichroic prism (3LCD n.d.)
The 3LCD systems use a couple of dichroic mirrors to break-up the light which is emitted from the lamp into red, green and blue. A thin film coating is used on the base glass of the mirrors which reflects light of particular wavelength. This is shown in Figure6:
Figure 6 - Dichroic mirror (3LCD n.d.)
d. LCD Panel
LCD Panel Type
Different types of LCD panels are available depending upon the purpose and applications. There are various types of LCD panels, each suitable for different applications. This is shown in Figure 7:
Figure 7 - LCD panel (3LCD n.d.)
High Temperature Poly-Silicon (HTPS) is an active matrix transmissive LCD. Its compact size, greater degree of contrast and resolution makes it superior. It also consists of embedded drivers. HTPS serves the projector as a light valve.
Each pixel of HTPS has a TFT (Thin Film Transfer) formed by poly-silicon. The pixel transistors perform the job of a conduction switch by altering the voltage of the scan line. This is very similar to the way semiconductors work. Due to their easy miniaturization capability they are very reliable and compact which also allows drivers to be produced on substrates by working at temperatures of high degree.
The light sources used in projectors are mercury lamps with extreme-high pressure because of their high quality lighting efficiency and time duration. The light source radius is reduced by configuring the operating pressure of the lamp to more than 200 atms, reducing the length of the light arc and ensuring better optical design. The increased luminescence results in improved properties of color rendering. The image of a lamp is shown in Figure 8:
Figure 8 - Lamp (3LCD n.d.)
Integrator Lighting System
Light is transmitted from the first lens array to the second lens array by the lens technology resulting in the complete screen been projected brightly. This is depicted in Figure 9:
Figure 9 - Integrator lighting system (3LCD n.d.)
Polarization Charger Element
Even though light waves of different orientations is emitted by the lamp, only longitudinal waves are transmitted by HTPS. To make sure that the maximum amount of light is passed through HTPS the longitudinal waves are transformed to shear waves by polarizer technology. This technology results in about 1.5 times increase in brightness. This is shown in Figure 10:
Figure 10 - Polarization charger (3LCD n.d.)
Benefits of 3LCD Projectors over Conventional Single Panel LCD Projector
The efficiency in brightness is more than 25 % with projectors using 3LCD technology as compared to other technologies. This implies using a lamp with lower power for a particular brightness and less fan noise while providing higher levels of energy efficiency.
Combining the advantages of superior grayscale, high brightness, high contrast and enhanced color reproduction results in a more natural, more real life looking picture. The highly superior grayscale accomplished by the 3LCD system also means more real-like reproduction of the dark areas of an image that are normally the most difficult to regenerate.
Color regeneration in the 3LCD system is fully natural, with the component red, green and blue colors each managed by a dedicated LCD panel. All three colors are always being projected, as in real life. Since the images from a 3LCD projector are natural and more real-like, they are pleasant on the eye, even after watching for a long duration of time. This is illustrated in Figure 11:
Figure 11 - 3LCD images (on the left) compared to single chip technology images (on the right) (3LCD n.d.)
Pacific Media Associates (PMAI) an electronic industry company recently in March 2010 published a market paper for 2009 projector technology which indicated that 51 % of the worldwide digital projector market share was comprised of 3LCD projector technologies. This highlights the fact that 3LCD technology holds a giant share in the projector technology market and is continuing to evolve and grow as companies involved in projector technology research continue to enhance the 3LCD technology.
Epson holds the number one position for projector brands worldwide and is the company that first introduced the 3LCD technology. Epson also holds the ownership of this technology. In projection technology 3LCD has been the recognized leader for quite a span of time now. Epson is striving continuously to further improve this technology.
Epson led the projector market with 20% share worldwide and 24% share in the U.S., as of 4th quarter of 2009. As the dominant leader in the projection industry, Epson continues to deliver high quality projectors with innovative features for business, education and home theater (Epson n.d.). The market share by Epson is illustrated in Figure 12:
Figure 12 - Epson 3LCD projector market share (Epson n.d.)
In the 720p resolution projector market, 3LCD leads with a 56 % market share and in the 1080p resolution, 3LCD leads the market share with 54 % market. 3LCD technology is renowned for its 3-chip engine architecture across all products, whereas competitive technologies reserve 3-chip for only their high end products. 3LCD holds over 98 percent of the 3-chip market, the industry standard for incredible color performance, detailed gray scale and solid reliability (Projector Central n.d.).
3LCD technology offers key cost benefits over the single-chip LCD technology which includes reduced level of energy usage, lamps which are of low wattage and filters to cut down the level of dust passing through the projector protecting the financial investment of the consumer. In today's modern day economy TOC (total cost of ownership) is crucial to the buying decision of consumers and hence the 3LCD technology provides with reduced maintenance needs and cost making sure the total cost of ownership is low. On average, compared to single-chip projectors, 3LCD technology uses 25% less power of similar brightness as shown in Figure 13:
Figure 11 - Power consumption by 3LCD technology compared to 1-chip (3LCD n.d.)
6.1 Cost Comparison of 3LCD Projectors vs Other Technologies
3LCD projectors are much more affordable to the consumer compared to other technologies like DLP, LCOS etc. This is because of the lower cost of manufacturing technology and the fact this technology has been widely adopted by projector manufactures. A typical cost of a 3LCD projector ranges between 800 USD to 2000 USD compared to DLP projectors where the price range is from 1500 USD to 4000 USD for the same resolution and vendor as illustrated in figure 12 and 13:
Figure 12 - Cost chart of 3LCD projectors (About Projectors n.d.)
Figure 13 - Cost chart of DLP projectors (About Projectors n.d.)
3LCD technology used in projectors has been evolving a great deal ever since the first LCD projector was introduced in the year 1984. With time, there have been key enhancements in LCD color imaging and grey scale, consumption in power and efficiency in light usage along with resolution and panel size. The 3LCD technology is highly scalable to a variety of projection applications and this technology continues to evolve in catering market needs as we step into the next decade of the twenty first century.