The smartphones we carry in our pockets are quite versatile devices. They used to be the size of a brick, required a separate battery pack, and only made calls. Now they fit in the palm of your hand, do HD video, surf the web, play games, hold gigabytes of data, and run for days on a single battery charge. Manufacturers continue to add functionality too, with NFC being the latest new tech to slowly be introduced to make them payment devices, and who knows what’s next.One potential future edition is the inclusion of a projector module. That would allow video to be projected on a wall as a 60-inch HD output, for example, maybe even larger. The problem with adding such functionality is one of size, power, and heat. At the moment the projector components are too big, they require a lot of power, and generate a lot of heat. That makes them unsuitable for inclusion in the tiny, cramped enclosure of an iPhone or Droid.Alps Electric is trying to solve that problem though, and has just announced the world’s smallest aspherical glass lens. It measures just 1mm x 1mm.Such lenses are used in high-capacity communication networks. The glass lens is used in optical communications for transmitting light signals to optical fibres, but those same lenses are also ideal for use in projectors.Alps’ latest aspherical lens is called the FLGS3. Not only is it incredibly small, but it has a high coupling efficiency (measure of light transmission efficiency) of 73% over the previous 68%. What that means is you need less light to gain the same level of brightness. Less light means less power and less heat.The gains from the new lens mean that palm-sized projectors may no longer require the Peltier device–metal component used to help dissipate heat–therefore making them smaller and cheaper. The savings in power will also mean you can use the projector for longer on a single battery charge.Even if the savings don’t turn out to be enough for use in smartphones, it should see a reduction in size of new, dedicated palm-sized projectors in future.Alps has already started production of the new glass lens, and definitely sees them being used in consumer devices as it ramps up production to 100,000 per month by the end of 2011.Read more at Alps, via Tech-On!