May 29, 2007 For years we've been promised micro-projectors the size of a remote control, a matchbox and even a sugar cube that will liberate visual content from the tiny screens of our mobile devices - but none have materialized onto the market. Explay's oio, the standalone version of which looks about the size of an iPod nano and packs some pretty cool features, was recently demonstrated to a press conference - and given a release date of 2008. It looks pretty close to production ready... We live in hope.

Micro-projection is looked at as a bit of a holy grail for mobile devices. The ability to project a decent-sized image from a tiny device solves the problem of tiny screen sizes on portable video and image players we're already seeing lots of in mobile phones and PDAs as well as standalone units. A reasonable micro projector could transform the portable video experience from 'lean forward and squint' to 'sit back and watch,' making mobile visual content infinitely more sharable and social in the process - not to mention the obvious business applications.

With plenty of companies working on being first to market, salvos of press releases have announced dozens of competing products 'in development' and even a few prototypes - but Israeli company Explay's oio is the first to announce an actual release date.

The oio unit (what a great name!) is initially going to be produced as a standalone unit, but it's clearly geared to be sold on and embedded in mobile devices. It boasts a maximum 40" image size with its laser projection delivering an eye-safe, always-focused, full-colour picture. Explay claim it's good for dark or bright rooms, and that it doesn't chew through too much power - the standalone unit will project for 2 hours on a battery charge.

The company demonstrated the device at SID 2007 in California, and announced plans to release the product in 2008. We sincerely hope the oio makes it to market and will be watching Explay's progress with interest - this looks like it might be the one!