Display startup MirraViz is here in Las Vegas this week for CES to show off a gadget that at first blush looks like some arcane trickery, allowing two off-the-shelf DLP projectors to layer images on top of one another so two people can view two different images simultaneously. The technology, which is actually built into the multilayer projector screen, is now on sale as a standalone product the Fremont, California-based startup is selling for $499.
Officially called the MultiView Screen, the product takes advantage of how reflective surfaces handle incoming light sources. “The basic physics principle for one of the key optical layers includes the use of retro-reflection (RR) optical elements which are also used in traffic signage and bicycle reflectors,” the company explains on its website. “The basic idea behind retro-reflection is that light reaching one of the RR elements will be reflected back to the source of the light regardless of the incident angle. This is different from typical reflective surfaces that reflect light at an angle equal to the incident angle.”
In other words, MirraViz’s projector screen takes one image and bounces it right back in the same direction as the source, allowing a viewer sitting at the right angle to see a crisp, bright image regardless of what other light sources the projector screen’s surface is being blasted with. The company has a few different use cases in mind. One is for video game fans, who now can enjoy local co-op play or local competitive gaming without having to split the screen. Another use case is for home entertainment, in which multiple viewers in a single home can enjoy their own media while using the same amount of screen real estate. MirraViz says it’s also exploring selling its product to businesses, including for big product and marketing expos like CES and for advertising purposes in public spaces.
Of course, there’s a number of hurdles for everyday consumers to make use of the tech. You need two projectors, for one — and they can’t just be crummy pico projectors. MirraViz says the projector screen needs high-quality DLP optics and lenses to make the layering effect work. But the company is working on a list of supported third-party products it knows for sure its screen will support. MirraViz also sells two off-the-shelf projectors with some custom optics built in to maximize quality as part of a $2,000 home theater kit. (A gaming specific bundle, for $3,000. includes a high-end audio setup, projectors, and gaming chairs.) Regardless, it’s an interesting concept that could gain traction if the list of supported projectors expands beyond higher-end devices.