Behind the Box Tiny Mirrors, Big Impact
Originally Texas Instruments supplied OEMs with practically everything they needed to build their projectors. That included the DLP light engines with DMDs, boards, optics, lamp and power supply. One result of that was little differentiation among products. "Then manufacturers got better at developing their own parts," said Hornbeck. The company eventually moved to selling only chips and boards, and now mostly just supplies DMDs and chipsets.
TI and Dr. Hornbeck have received numerous awards for the development of the DLP system. Hornbeck and TI both were awarded Emmys from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Hornbeck has also been honored with Germany's Eduard Rhein Foundation Technology Award, England's Rank Prize, the Society for Information Display's Karl Ferdinand Braun Prize and most recently he was named a Fellow by the International Society for Optical Engineering. "One of the things I'm most proud of is DLP cinema," said Hornbeck. "That is the opportunity to finally replace the last vestige of analog entertainment."
Though technically DLP has been in existence for about two decades, it's still a new technology as far as most CE dealers are concerned. Selling the technology was less of an issue in the business presentation market, which had already embraced LCD. With the further deployment of high-definition quality DMDs, and some of the price declines in the consumer products, Texas Instruments has focused a lot of attention on dealer training and education. "We did that [education] in the business projector space primarily with co-op ads," said John Reder, manager of the tabletop business and DLP home entertainment division of TI. TI is planning to be much more aggressive in its involvement in the CE channels with the new high-definition products. Reder said their channel program usually begins with the national sales officers. TI will send trainers to educate the channel's trainers, who in turn work with the store sales force. Sometimes the approach involves creating educational end-caps and literature customized to the dealer.