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Why STMicroelectronics bought projector start-up BTendo

We've written a number of times about an R&D collaboration between STMicroelectronics and an Israeli company called BTendo that's developed leading technology for scanning laser projection.  Their collaboration, combining BTendo's projection technology with STMicroelectronics MEMS expertise, has developed a pico-projector component designed for phones and other electronic devices.

Earlier this month the news broke that STMicroelectronics has acquired BTendo.

We wrote about their projection component back in March, reporting on the new trend in cellphone projectors at MWC.  Their prototype showed the projector in action as a distinct device, but their target is to have the component embedded into cellphones and other devices.

Their specs are similar to those of the Samsung's Galaxy Beam.  They're targeting 12-15 Lumens, and resolution anywhere from SVGA up to WXG.  This component could be the way that other cellphone makers will catch up to Samsung in equipping phones with projectors.

Grizzly Analytics has long felt that cellphones with embedded projectors would have a huge potential in the consumer content-consumption area.  Projectors have usually been discussed for business users, but I think that the new generation of mobile movie-watchers and movie-sharers will enjoying having a projector in their pockets.

The biggest question is why ST chose to acquire BTendo now.  Is the tipping point coming for cellphone projectors? Does ST have deals in the works for embedding their projector technology into new cellphones?

As even more far-out speculation, we've long suspected that the upcoming iPhone 5 will have something really new.  Apple has a way of getting analysts and pundits to think about the incremental improvements, and then throw out a radically new thing.  Will September's news about the iPhone 5 include a projector?  Will it be based on technology from ST?  Only time will tell.....  But if it's not Apple, it going to be someone else who brings this great new pico-projector component to market.

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