Lasers, or Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, have been with us for half a century. A laser produces a highly focused (spatially coherent) beam of light having a very specific wavelength, the latter depending on the design and application. They’re used in medicine, industry, laser printing, barcode scanners, CD, DVD, and Blu-ray players, laser light shows, and innumerable other applications.
Lasers can also be used as a light source for digital projection. While this is still under development, we’re likely to see it first in movie theaters. Lasers can not only produce a much brighter imagewhich can help overcome the dimness of 3D presentationsbut also offer cost benefits to theater owners. Conventional xenon lamps are expensive to replace, and have a useful life of perhaps 1000 hours (some theaters try to stretch this as much as possible, often with negative effects on picture quality). A laser light source can stretch this by at least twenty-fold or even more. While replacement lasers will likely be significantly more expensive to early on, they’ll still be cheaper per hour of use. Another possible cost saving might come from using a centralized “light farm,” with the light from a single remotely located bank of lasers routed to multiple projectors via fiber optics.