Projector developers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering have created a tiny projector based on the compound eye of an insect to avoid problems with ‘keystoning’.

The technologists at the German institute have created microprojector technology – suitable for integration into smartphones – that uses hundreds of tiny lenses. By using a range of lenses, a projector will be better suited to throwing images onto non-flat surfaces.

“Our projector consists of hundreds of tiny microprojectors in an array, each of which generates a complete image,” said Marcel Sieler, a leading Fraunhofer researcher on the project. “This technology, known as ‘array projection’, is modelled on nature – on the compound eye found in some insects – and with it for the first time we can create very thin and bright LED projection systems with tremendous imaging properties.”

The researchers have also incorporated infrared beams to the device, which allow for the projected images to be touch-sensitive.

The technology is not expected to be ready for consumer use for at least three years, but Sieler said that a launch onto the mass market is definitely what they’re aiming for. He explained, “The manufacturing process is suitable for mass production, and that makes the devices economical to make.”