Roku and 3M threw a joint movie night this morning to announce the launch of a streaming projector, built on 3M technology and powered by the Roku streaming stick.
The projector is small enough to be carried around, bright enough to project a 120-inch picture, and powerful enough to pack over two and a half hours of battery life--"long enough to watch just about any movie," according to Mark Colin, 3M general manager of mobile interactive solutions. It's available for preorder now exclusively on Amazon for $299.99, and the plan is to ship devices in mid- to late-October.
Fast Company spoke with Roku CEO Anthony Wood last week, and while he stayed tight-lipped about the 3M partnership, he spoke at length about the advantages of the streaming stick, which the company launched in late September:
“For a TV company to integrate software into their TV is a multi-year process. Whereas a streaming stick, they can build TVs, [and then] decide at the last minute if they want to make it a streaming TV or not. But even though it's a stick, it does have all the advantages of being integrated. It uses the same remote control, it appears to the user as if it's built in. And it has the other advantage that you don't have with integrated software in that you can upgrade it--faster streaming sticks, more features.”
Mobile projectors, of course, have been around for a while. Where this one might have a leg up is content: The Roku streaming stick hosts over 600 channels’ worth of content, including Netflix and HuluPlus, and more recently, CNBC and Walmart’s Vudu channel, and it works wherever there’s Wi-Fi.
This morning’s event featured several inspiring tableaux with the projector, including a bedroom scenario with the projector stuck at the end of the bed, a super-fun sleepover where it pointed at the ceiling, and a backyard barbecue, complete with a bedsheet-clothesline set-up in lieu of a screen--emphasis on the flexibility and ease of use you don’t get with a traditional projector.
As far as Roku goes, they’re aiming at nothing short of being the OS of TV. “I guess I would say Roku is sort of where I thought the world had been heading for a while,” says Wood. “It's just taken a while to get here.”