Modern projectors have gotten smaller and are connected to your digital media collections and streaming services. There’s no shortage of them either, so any new projectors will have to offer something special to gain attention. Turning the projector into a little robot that looks like Wall-E is a good place to start.
Lighty is a small projector that attempts to stand out from the crowd with some features that make it smarter than the competition. The creators believe that other projectors suffer from not being portable, not having integrated speakers, requiring lots of cables, and usually being restricted to shooting at the wall ahead. Lighty claims to counter all of these problems with a device that is supposedly a portable projector, an internet radio, and a robot.
The projector itself is an HD (well, 720p) pic projector that can moved around 360/90 degress to look in just about any angle. This is where the robotics comes in. Lighty remembers where you watch your videos so will look around at the same place next time. The creators say that most projectors are designed for shooting video straight ahead at a wall but Lighty can project to the ceiling so you can lie in bed and watch your favourite shows. You can also ask it to make the image horizontal, even if the device itself isn’t level.
The projector doesn’t need to be manually focused as it uses lasers (always a quick way to our tech-loving hearts). Integrated speakers means it works as a standalone device, which is a necessity for portability. Lighty can be powered by the mains but it can also be used as a portable cinema. The example given on the website is a camping trip, with a film playing on the side of a tent. The prototype can apparently play video for 5 hours on a single charge (10 hours internet radio), which is easily enough for a film.
To get the projector to appear, you double tap the top of Lighty. It’s surprisingly cute for something with no expressions or even a face. It recognises a few more gestures and we like them because they’re practical and useful rather than just existing for the sake of it. For example, you can turn the device off by holding your hand in-front of the projector. Being touchless means you can safely use it while you watch TV shows in the bath, which should totally become a thing. The amount of time you hold your hand there dictates whether Lighty shuts down and folds away or whether it just stops playing but doesn’t move. This means you can silently turn a film off without engaging the motors that might otherwise wake someone up. Lighty also recognises voice commands if you can’t read the device easily.
You can see it in action here:
The creators are crowdfunding Lighty on Indiegogo. The cheesy campaign full of platitudes doesn’t do much for the the product. Neither does the meaningless paragraph about wives and kids being hard to satisfy. Apparently that’s why there’s an internet radio. Yeah, we’re not sure where they’re coming from either.
Projectors are already quite pricey so it shouldn’t be a surprise that sticking lasers and robotics inside them results in an expensive product. The cheapest backing option is $500 (£345.28), which is supposedly the production price, but this is an extremely limited option with only 9 left at the time of writing. The next option is at $650 (£448.86) The shipping for all of these options is $50 (£34.53). You also have a bit of a wait as it won’t launch until April 2017.
That’s a lot of money for something you won’t actually see until a year from now.
Main image © Lighty