Army prototypes world's highest-resolution projector

The research center of the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command has built what it claims to be the world's highest-resolution large-screen projector. Officials hope it will eventually used by Army commanders to view large-scale detailed maps while in the field.

The 40-inch diagonal unit features a 9-megapixel display, with a resolution of 3,840 by 2,400 pixels, said Raymond Schulze, the battle command interface branch chief for the Communications-Electronics Research Development Engineering Center, which developed the projector.

The center's mission is to develop new technologies to aid commanders in making quick battlefield decisions. Today's tactical operations centers often use projectors to display maps and images. These large-screen display units are limited in the level of detail that can be clearly shown. The centers need projectors with resolutions high enough to show large images with details such as street names.

The center contracted MCNC Inc., a nonprofit research and development institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C., to design the prototype. The Army Research Lab in Adelphi, Md., assisted MCNC. The system uses a 22-inch flat-panel T-221 monitor from IBM Corp. and uses a high-intensity bulb and a lens to expand the image.

The computer providing the images uses a video card from Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd., of Dorval, Quebec.

In initial tests, the center found that the projector worked but that the images were not bright enough. The organization plans to replace the 10,000 ANSI lumen bulb with a 100,000 ANSI lumen one.

In addition to providing more detailed information, the resulting prototype also could save the Army money. The prototype cost about $90,000 to build. According to the MCNC, a commercial projector that would provide the closest resolution would run about $200,000

The center's next step is to test the projector in various work environments, such as in support facilities and in the field. Should the projector pass these tests, Schulze said, integrator General Dynamics Corp. would have the opportunity to make the projector commercially available through its Army Common Hardware/Software III contract vehicle.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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