Meta4hand takes smartphones to big screen

Displaying and viewing content from a mobile device has always been a frustrating endeavor, but Canadian software developer Meta4Hand believes it has the answer: A laser-based micro-projection system that incorporates a compact laser-projection display (LPD).

Ray Moschuk, Meta4Hand's CEO, envisions the company's patented software-based solution, which can be loaded on a PDA or smartphone, as nothing less than a replacement for a laptop computer. With the software and micro-projector incorporated into a handheld device, a user can project documents from a mobile phone and use the phone as a remote cursor and keyboard. It also allows content from a smartphone to be displayed on any dumb wireless terminal, from a computer monitor to stadium-size Jumbotron. Essentially, Moschuk believes that high-quality micro-projection displays can help make laptops and notebooks obsolete.

Meta4hand makes the software for the system, which also enables remote collaboration among multiple users who can manipulate content simultaneously. The LPD has been developed by Symbol Technologies. Micro-PC capabilities are added to the projection engine to emulate desktop functionality.

The company's software includes SynapBridj, which is middleware that wirelessly transmits remote data, keyboard and navigational control information from a PDA to an external computing device in real-time. It also includes Nudj, a mobile controller interface that provides mouse and keyboard control over other devices from a PDA.

On the hardware side, OnR-Badj is Meta4hand's pocket ultra PC that can be used with existing dumb displays to access and control mobile desktop displays. The Laser Badj is the company's next-generation pocket ultra PC with a pocket laser projector for greater mobility.

Mobile professionals

Moschuk believes the products have strong potential in the education, government, medical and mobile sales vertical markets. Medical professionals could use the system, for example, to pull up x-rays, ultrasounds and other digital images and annotate them on a mobile device. So far, the system has been installed at two Canadian locations, the University of Alberta Hospital and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. However, discussions are pending with potential users in North America, Asia and Europe, according to Moschuk.

At this point, the system only operates on Windows Mobile 5 smartphones, but the client-side software is being ported to Symbian, Java and Linux.

He says the company is integrating the micro-PC capability with the laser projection engine. He prefers to focus on software development and recruit partners for distribution and production. He says the company has held discussions with Taiwan's HTC Corp. to bundle Meta4Hand's software with a laser-projection device. He also says there is strong interest from the Hong Kong market. 'The Asia-Pacific region could be as large as any market for us,' he explains.

Moschuk says the company plans to introduce a consumer product later this year and perhaps go public within a year.