Digital Light Processing

Definition of Digital Light Processing

Digital Light Processing (DLP) is a display technology developed by Texas Instruments, which utilizes a semiconductor chip called a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) to create high-quality, high-resolution images and videos. The DMD chip contains thousands of microscopic mirrors that individually reflect and modulate light to generate an image. DLP technology is commonly used in digital projectors, home theaters, and large-scale video displays, known for its sharp, accurate colors, and superior contrast ratio.


Digital Light Processing in phonetics can be transcribed as: /’dɪdʒɪtl laɪt prə’sɛsɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Digital Light Processing (DLP) is a display technology that uses micro-mirrors to create high-quality images in projectors, televisions, and home theaters.
  2. DLP offers a fast response time, which supports smooth video playback, and is highly energy-efficient due to its reflective nature.
  3. One of the drawbacks of DLP technology is the rainbow effect, which can cause a viewer to see separate red, green, and blue color bands, especially during rapid movement or images with high contrasts.

Importance of Digital Light Processing

Digital Light Processing (DLP) is an important technology term because it revolutionized the way visual content is projected and displayed with greater precision and efficiency.

Developed by Texas Instruments, DLP technology utilizes micro mirrors arranged on a semiconductor chip, known as Digital Micromirror Device (DMD), to produce high-quality video and projection displays.

DLP-based systems offer several advantages over traditional approaches, including higher resolution, sharper images, minimized lag, and increased color accuracy.

Consequently, DLP technology found widespread applications in sectors like business, education, entertainment, and cinema, enhancing the visual experience for viewers and facilitating more effective communication.


Digital Light Processing (DLP) serves as an advanced projection technology that enables high-quality visual displays in diverse settings, ranging from home theaters and professional cinemas to educational institutions and conference centers. Its primary function is to deliver sharp, vibrant, and precise digitally projected images by manipulating light to create a visual outcome. At the core of this technology lie millions of microscopic mirrors designed on a semiconductor chip called Digital Micromirror Device (DMD), which reflects light according to the programmed image data to produce the final projection.

DLP technology has evolved into a preferred choice for various sectors due to its ability to project images at high resolutions with reduced pixilation, low interference, and smooth color rendition. DLP is widely used across multiple applications, such as 3D printing, video walls, and large-venue projectors. In the realm of 3D printing, DLP enables the creation of more accurate and detailed models through a process called UV-curable resin printing.

Video walls used in control rooms, digital signage, or public installations benefit from the seamless projection of images thanks to the technology’s edge blending capabilities and finely tuned color calibration. Additionally, some pocket-sized portable projectors (pico projectors) incorporate DLP technology to project high-quality images over a large surface area while maintaining image quality and brightness. DLP’s versatility and adaptability across various industries highlight its importance in today’s fast-paced and technologically driven era.

Examples of Digital Light Processing

Home Theater Projectors: Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology is widely used in home theater projectors to create a cinematic experience in living rooms or dedicated home theater spaces. These projectors use DLP technology to display high-definition images, videos, and presentations on large screens, providing a rich and immersive visual experience for movie nights or watching live sports events with family and friends.

Digital Cinema Projection: DLP technology has revolutionized the cinema industry by replacing traditional film projectors with digital projectors that offer improved image quality, brightness, and color accuracy. Digital cinema projectors equipped with DLP technology can project movies at resolutions up to 4K, providing viewers with an enhanced movie-going experience. Since the introduction of digital cinema projection, movie theaters have been able to streamline movie distribution, improve imagery, and reduce costs associated with film prints.

Rear-Projection Televisions (RPTVs): Before the widespread adoption of flat-screen TVs, DLP technology played a significant role in the manufacturing of rear-projection televisions. These TVs employed DLP technology to project images onto a large screen, providing a cost-effective option for large-screen TVs compared to plasma and LCD alternatives of their time. Although RPTVs have been mostly phased out by the market in favor of newer, more advanced display technologies, they serve as an important example of DLP technology’s contribution to television history.

FAQs about Digital Light Processing

What is Digital Light Processing (DLP)?

Digital Light Processing (DLP) is a display technology that uses tiny digital mirrors to gather and project images onto a screen. DLP technology was invented by Texas Instruments and is commonly used in projectors and televisions for high-quality image reproduction.

How does DLP work?

DLP technology involves the use of a digital micromirror device (DMD) containing thousands or millions of tiny mirrors. Each mirror corresponds to a single pixel and can tilt towards or away from a light source to project light onto a screen. By combining this with color filters or color wheels, DLP technology can produce a wide range of colors in high-resolution images.

What are the benefits of using DLP technology?

DLP technology offers several benefits, including remarkably sharp images, high color accuracy, fast refresh rates, and reduced motion blur. Additionally, DLP projectors and televisions are compact, have a longer lamp life, and require less maintenance than other display technologies.

What are the limitations of DLP technology?

Some limitations of DLP technology include the possibility of the “rainbow effect,” a visual artifact where brief flashes of color may be seen by some viewers. Additionally, DLP projectors can sometimes produce audible noise due to the spinning color wheel, and they may have a lower contrast ratio compared to other display technologies.

What applications are best suited for DLP projectors?

DLP projectors are ideal for various applications such as home theaters, business presentations, large venue projections, and educational settings. Thanks to their high-resolution capabilities, fast refresh rates, and vibrant colors, DLP projectors are popular options for delivering rich visual experiences.

Related Technology Terms

  • Digital Micromirror Device (DMD)
  • Light-Emitting Diode (LED) projection
  • Three-Chip (3-Chip) DLP
  • Single-Chip DLP
  • Color Wheel

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents