Power Technology's Illumina Laser Projection System on Full Display


Power Technology's Illumina Laser Projection System on Full Display
PTI hopes to break into the movies with its Illumina laser projection system.

The Illumina laser projection system from Power Technology Inc. of Alexander represents a potential win-win for movie-goers and theater owners, and that double score was on full display Monday at the Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock's River Market District.

PTI began marketing the system last fall after "stumbling upon" the technology while finishing up a $1.5 million project for the Department of Defense in 2012.

Before a small, hand-picked audience of industry representatives and supporters of the local tech startup community as well as an invitation-only audience watching via live stream, PTI showed just what Illumina can do. 

And what it can do is transform the movie-watching experience similar to the way HD transformed television viewing. 

Laser projection puts more light on the screen with more brightness and color depth, said PTI vice president of sales and engineering Walter Burgess. Illumina would replace the use of traditional xenon light bulbs with multiple lasers that produce full-time color – red, green, blue and even white when combined. Its architecture combines red, green and blue lasers into one beam.

Soon, it will support six colors, he said.

"The combination of the varying wavelengths produces natural color and exceptionally bright images with no color breaking or rainbow effects," Burgess said. "Illumina’s wide range of capabilities overcomes many of the issues associated with conventional lamp-based projection, while at the same time providing energy-saving features and a lower total cost of ownership."

Burgess estimates Illumina can provide an annual cost savings of $3,000 per screen while allowing more than 10,000 hours of usage compared to about 3,000 hours with some lamps.

For theater owners who would no longer have to replace bulbs, the return-on-investment  would be significant, Burgess said. The average premium, large format U.S. theater spends about $49,000 a year replacing bulbs, he said.

"With Illumina, you never have to change a bulb again."

Burgess noted how movie attendance has declined dramatically in recent years as technology has made the home viewing experience better. 

"Now, home viewing can rival the movie experience," Burgess said. "People don't need to get off their couch anymore to go to the movies."

Theaters have taken notice, improving the cinematic experience with more speakers providing better audio and plush seating. With its much improved projection capabilities, Illumina represents the last piece to the puzzle of restoring that old movie "magic," he said.

Burgess estimates Illumina can provide an annual cost savings of $3,000 per screen while allowing more than 10,000 hours of usage compared to about 3,000 hours with some lamps.

"Illumina increases the projector color gamut, enabling an expanded color gamut and better color reproduction," he said. "And, when used in 3D applications, the laser light doesn't require a polarizing filter like many film or digital projectors, which causes a loss of light. Laser source have the potential of making today's dark 3D films just as bright as conventional 2D films."

William Burgess, PTI's VP of operations, said PTI will display the technology at two big trade shows in April -- the National Association of Broadcasters meeting and CinemaCon, both in Las Vegas. Plus, Illumina and PTI will be a part of the Little Rock Film Festival in May.

Walter Burgess said movie projection hasn't changed in decades, and change is long overdue.

"Most revolutions occur when the status quo is no longer enough," he said. "The current technology in the movie industry is not enough."

Last fall, PTI received a $100,000 grant from the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority to further develop the technology. William Burgess said the Illumina product currently is available up to 65,000 lumens and currently ready for install in IMAX and large format theaters.

PTI, an Innovate Arkansas client firm, is marketing the technology to members of the Laser Illumined Projector Association, an organization made up of many of the world's largest projection companies such as IMAX, Christie Digital, Barco and Sony.