Short-throw projectors going ‘extreme’ in education

The market for ultra short throw projectors has grown in 2011, experts say.

Not every college classroom is a vast lecture hall. There are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of small rooms on campus that serve as meeting spaces for small class sections—confined areas where projectors can be placed just a couple feet away.

Casting a large, clear picture on a screen or wall is rarely a challenge in the most spacious of lecture halls; professors can place their projectors as far back into the room as needed in order to get a crisp image that supplements a class lesson.

For faculty members who don’t have the luxury of nearly unlimited space, however, there is a new generation of short-throw projectors that have adopted a new name: “ultra short throw” or “extreme short throw.”

These extreme versions of the short-throw projector can create images up to 80 inches diagonally across, sitting only two feet away from a screen or wall—making the machines ideal for educators working in a tight space.

Having the projector so close to the wall also lets professors and teaching assistants roam the classroom without casting shadows on the projection, experts say.

“This past year it’s been all about who puts the ‘short’ in short-throw projectors,” said Elizabeth Dourley, a researcher and writer for Projector Central, a website that tracks projector technology for entertainment and educational use. “Short throws are extremely popular for applications where space is tight, but they also prevent light hitting a presenter in the face or shadows obstructing the image.”

Many extreme short-throw projectors require only about one foot to produce an image—a significant difference when compared to a standard projector used in higher education. Traditional projectors need at least eight feet to cast a clear image on a wall or screen, and many need several more feet to operate.

Ultra short-throw projectors have developed a following both in K-12 schools and on college campuses, Dourley said. And she expects the educational fascination with short-throw projectors to continue in 2011.