Panasonic has launched Space Player, a projector in a track fixture format, targeted at creative retail or event applications. I remember vaguely that they debuted a prototype of this back at Light + Building 2014.
With a diameter of about 6″, the fixture is about as big as an old-school PAR38 track fixture. Unlike the wimpy “Beam” Kickstarter project, the Panasonic offering is a serious piece of kit: At its heart is a 1,000 lumen laser diode mated to a DLP chip, listed to 20,000 hours at L50 lumen maintenance. It includes an SD card slot for storing content locally, along with hard-wired Ethernet and built-in WIFI connections. Panasonic also apparently has a range of software specifically for multi-projector control, wireless control, etc., seemingly derived from its larger professional projector line.
I stated in my previous conference presentations that once lighting moves to IP-based networking, that “pixels become free” — meaning that a Cat5 cable costs the same whether it is turning on/off a single-channel light bulb or driving an HD projector. The Panasonic Space Player is the literal embodiment of that concept. It especially hits home how far projectors have advanced, with durable light sources, high output, and compact size.
This concept saves the mounting hassles of using normal projectors. But I have to imagine it costs a hefty price. Regardless of the hardware costs, content is going to be king with this system. Panasonic recognizes such, but in the following white paper, basically tells its customers to hire an agency to make the content:
I’m sure there will be some leading customers that create dazzling content using the many video mapping systems out there. But these will be “big ticket” projects with fat marketing budgets. The more interesting question is if this technology will “trickle down” to more general uses in architectural applications, as the tech will surely continue to drop in price and the usability will increase.
For posterity, here is the brochure and spec sheet: