Take the guts of a cheap Android phone, subtract a screen and add a pico projector and you’ve got a tiny PC you can use to watch movies, surf the web, or play games on just about any surface in your house.

We’ve seen a few devices like this recently from companies including ZTE and Aiptek. But a startup called Beam Labs is working on something a little different: the Beam is a smart projector that fits in a light socket.

Beam has already surpassed its $200,000 Kickstarter funding goal, and the team hopes to deliver the first units in October, 2015. You can back the campaign with a pledge of $399 or more to try to reserve one.

beam_02

The Beam has a dual-core processor, 8GB of storage, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. It runs Google Android and has 2 watt stereo speakers and a 100 lumen pico projector with a display resolution of 854 x 480 pixels — although the team says if it can figure out a way to use a higher-resolution projector, it will upgrade the hardware before shipping the Beam later this year.

What makes this device unusual is that instead of plugging the Beam into a wall jack, you connect it to a light socket. It draws power through the socket the same way a light bulb would, and works with E27 sockets (or you can use a Bayonet adapter if you’re in a country that uses that standard).

Since the device fits in a light fixture, you can use an articulated desk lamp as a sort of projector stand. Or you can hang the Beam over your dining room table or kitchen counter to project games, videos, or other content directly onto a flat surface so you can watch cooking videos while you cook, for instance, or read the news as you eat.

There’s also a lamp function thanks to 12 LED lights. So when you just want to use your light fixture as, well, a light fixture, you can do that without unscrewing the Beam.

You can use a mouse, keyboard, or game controller to interact with the Beam, but there will also be iOS and Android apps which you can use to control the device. Or you can send content to the Beam using Airplay or Miracast.

The device includes the Google Play Store, which means you should be able to run most Android apps — although it seems to be running stock Android software rather than Android TV, which means that some apps which are designed for touchscreen displays may be hard to use on a device that doesn’t have a touchscreen.

All told, the Beam is one of the most unusual Android mini PCs I’ve come across in the past few years… and also one of the most expensive. But it’s not much more expensive than a standalone pico projector, which could make this little Android PC an interesting option for folks that were thinking of picking up a tiny projector anyway.

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9 replies on “Beam is an Android PC + projector that fits in a light socket (crowdfunding)”

  1. I love the idea, but it seems like if you want to get a project get a PICO. If you want to get an LED desk lamp just get a Lumiy Lightline 1250. Its trying to put too much into one thing – like a TV with a built in VHS tape in it …. doesn’t do either well and parts go obsolete.

  2. the idea is interesting, but in the end i’m not that sure that it would be better than i.e. having a dedicated device that looks like we’re used to. Problems start if you want to attach Hardware (Network-Cable? Keyboard?)
    That (and the whole problem how to input data) would be solveable if you just build this device as something display-like, not as a whole computer. Like: a projector that mimics a miracast-dongle or tries to be similar to googles chromecast.

    Then there are those two example-pictures. Am I the only one who sees that hanging lamp, projecting a screen, who thinks “…and then it starts rotating/swinging”?

  3. interesting concept. I like the fact that I have millions of choices for lamp stands to serve as a mount. But I’m not so keen on the size of this thing.

    I’d prefer something that is an entire lamp itself, something like the Ikea Jansjo lamp. http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/20169658/

    The board could be stored in the base, and the Pico Projector could be contained in the bulb-area.

    1. if it was like $150 lower i could see getting it but right now the Celluon wins

      1. Oh yeah, I didn’t realize not all ceiling lighting fixtures are straight down oriented which would make it very pointless if all you can do is project onto floors or tables.

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