Prysm, Maker of Laser Screens, Quietly Breeds a Large-Display Revolution in Concord

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stacked and tiled up to any required size. The biggest display the startup has attempted to assemble to date is a 12-by-12 array of Maui screens with a total diagonal measurement of 300 inches, or 25 feet. The challenge of going bigger isn’t really a mechanical one right now, Tan says—it’s more a matter of improving the tiling software that takes a single video signal and spreads it across the 12-by-12 array’s 144 separate screens.

Prysm displays in a public space“You have to prove mechanically that the screens can go together, and electrically that you can take a signal, split it up, recombine, and have it look good,” says Tan. “If we put some effort into it, we can make something much bigger. We’d just have to scale the tiling engine and work on the packaging a bit, but basically it’s like stacking Lego blocks.”

With plenty of expertise on hand—including seven staffers with PhDs in chemistry, physics, and optics, along with others who have spent time at legendary New England technology organizations like DEC, Polaroid, and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory—Tan seems confident that the startup can figure out how to put all the pieces together.

“Having the capability and knowledge is one thing, but you’ve also got to deliver, and many of us have worked in companies that have delivered product to the marketplace,” Tan says. “We’re all good problem solvers. If you ask why Japan Inc. didn’t come up with [the laser phosphor display], I think it’s because you can get optimized around a space and forget to take a step back. I think this is where the U.S. is terrific. You have smart, playful engineers who say, ‘Why not?'”

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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