A color wheel is more than just a reference for art and decorating, it is also a vital component in non-CRT video projectors. For that application, a color wheel is s solid disk with an outer rim made up of red, green, and blue (RGB) color filters. Sometimes the color sectors are like the blocks on a paper color wheel, and sometimes the filters are arranged in a swirl pattern, as if streaked by the motion of the wheel.

It works by spinning very quickly in front of the projector’s lamp, breaking the white light into its primary colors, shining them in rapid sequence at the image-creating device, be it LCD (transmissive), LCoS (reflective), or DLP(also reflective). The imager is simultaneously sequencing through the red, green, and blue portions of the image in time to the red, green, and blue light falling upon it so that the proper colors are directed at the screen in the proper sequence to create a full-color image through persistence of vision.

A better, but more expensive solution is to use a dedicated image chip for each color. Three-chip projectors display flicker-free images with a brightness up to three times greater than a similar 1-chip system using a color wheel.