Showcase Mobile Projector

I had been selecting opportunities and designing successful new mobility products for several years but my first real invention came to me in the midst of a brainstorming session with my PORT team about the recently announced IBM ThinkPad 755CV/CDV  (really, ya gotta click and see what it looked like) which was designed for mobile sales presentations and intended for use with then-common overhead projectors. In a time when LCD projectors were still in their infancy and conference rooms did not routinely promise flat screen monitors, the problem of the day was how to deliver a PowerPoint slide show when the only visual tool was that giant tabletop OHP that may or may not be awaiting you when you need it. The ThinkPad 755CV was introduced to fill that void for traveling salespeople as a first-of-its kind removable back LCD panel that could be projected on a screen when placed on a conventional OHP. The embarrassing reality was that attaching the fancy laptop to a projector required awkward velcro straps and careful balancing to be safely affixed and used. This just wasn’t going to do for the travelling sales rep, and the media quickly picked-up that the device was a challenge to use and keep cool – lest the display overheat, with anomalous results.

We anticipated this problem months earlier than the media, and by the end of our productive team meeting we had designed what became Showcase, a fully portable OHP alternative that folded for travel and in-use had an angled form optimized for the ThinkPad it accompanied; its design also compatible with conventional slides. The primary challenge was devising optics to rival tabletop projectors while managing heat dissipation in a tiny package; the art I taught proposed the folding accordion design that allowed us to compact the internal bulb and mirrors into a reduced form-factor previously considered impossible. The design allowed the ThinkPad to rest freely on a well ventilated platform rather than be strapped onto a projector; the angular shape and powerful cooling fan of the projector combined with the airflow beneath the ThinkPad to facilitate rapid heat transfer away from the bulb and computer.

The Showcase projector folded itself into a small box only slightly larger than the laptop for easy transport in the same carrying case.






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