February 19, 2014 7:12pm PT by Carolyn Giardina
Regulations Could Loosen For Laser Projectors in Theaters, Says Advocacy Group
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — A key hurdle might be eliminated — possibly as early as spring — that could make it more practical for the cinema industry to adopt laser projectors, Laser Illuminated Projection Association president Pete Lude reported Wednesday at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat.
The ongoing issue of how to make digital cinema screens brighter for 3D has put a lot of attention on the potential of laser projection.
Proponents say these developing projectors could deliver a brighter picture while reducing power consumption. Regulatory issues, however, have been a challenge as they are subject to safety regulations and currently require an FDA variance to operate due to the brightness level.
LIPA has been urging regulatory bodies to lower requirements for laser projectors, arguing that such light sources “emit almost identical radiance” as the Xenon lamps currently used in digital cinema theaters.
Speaking at the HPA Retreat, Lude reported that international standards body International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) “is well on its way to redefining what a laser projector is,” meaning that laser projectors would no longer be considered a laser emission device. Instead, they would fall under lamp regulation, possibly as early as spring, he said.
In the U.S. this classification would eliminate the need for a variance to use a laser projector, and so LIPA is encouraging the FDA to quickly adopt the IEC revision (when completed).
While this could help to open up the opportunity for laser projectors, Lude acknowledged that other hurdles remain. For one, many consider current laser projection technology to be cost prohibitive.
Lude added that other remaining issues surround speckle – an apparent shimmering of light — and accurate color reproduction.
In 2013, projector maker Christie announced the sale of its first laser projector to the Seattle Cinerama Theatre, following FDA approval of a variance.