ANALYSIS & OPINION

Raising awareness of photonics in San Fran

In part III of the Photonics West review, Greg Blackman reports on the initiatives discussed at the show in San Francisco, which aim to increase awareness of photonics technologies 

Photonics has been described as 'electronics, 20 years ago', in terms of its potential to influence pretty much every aspect of modern life. However, awareness of photonics technology remains relatively low. In the first part of the Photonics West review, the opinions of executives from key company in the industry suggests the photonics market is healthy, which was reinforced by the high attendance to the show and activities on the show floor, as discussed in part II of the review.

The show itself might be a bonanza of photonic technologies, but those outside the industry have little idea of the potential of the technology. At the event, Photonics21 president Michael Mertin gave a keynote speech stating that photonics needs to be explained in simpler terms for it to get on the political agenda. SPIE is also one of the sponsors of the 2015 UN International Year of Light initiative, which aims to increase awareness of the technology.

Photonics West was the ideal place to get an understanding of the potential of photonics technologies – Tim Day, CEO of Daylight Solutions, noted during the executive panel discussion (see part I) that the likes of Google and Apple send employees to Photonics West for the courses relating to semiconductor production such as silicon photonics.

And according to Stephen Anderson, industry and marketing strategist at SPIE, more than 18 per cent of the world’s photonics business was at the show in terms of annual revenue – combined revenue from the 1,008 exhibitors surveyed was $84 billion for 2012, around 18 per cent of the 2012 global photonics market, which Anderson quoted as $480 billion. The show also drew a record 21,360 attendees, all of which is encouraging for the industry.

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