Skip to main content

Hot technologies at CES are powered by photonics

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which kicks off each year in Las Vegas and did so again last week, is a mega-event that identifies trends and gives some of the biggest gurus in technology a platform. The mainstream media covers it all with gusto. Of course the tech media is all over it too, with everything from product specs to analysis of tweets to see who the biggest “influencers” are.

The good thing about CES is that there is something for everyone – but that’s also the bad thing. Significant developments or important new products might just be overshadowed by something with a bigger flash, but possibly not much substance. And there’s also the paradox of constant monitoring. As Junko Yoshida says in EE Times: “While consumers see the Orwellian implications of constant monitoring, they can’t resist the temptations to see or hear things that wouldn’t be on the radar without embedded cameras or microphones.”

Of course photonics plays a big role in just about everything touted at CES. LEDs were big again this year, as were wearables, drones, and smart cars. Our colleagues at optics.org highlighted some of the automotive photonics-enabled bling – from Ford, BMW, and Volkswagen. Their article on sensors and wearables included optical pulse oximeters, live thermal imagery and gesture-sensing 3D cameras for controlling devices. They covered the emergence of quantum-dot-enhanced TVs as well.

Some of this stuff does indeed improve our world – anything that makes driving safer, our health more easily monitored, or energy more efficient is great. But really, the exciting developments and the ones with the most potential for improving the lives of millions are probably not likely to be hyped in Las Vegas. A quick test for the dengue virus could impact a half billion people. LEDs can replace kerosene for lighting and let children study after dark. That’s what the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies is intended to highlight.

The lives we save and the minds we develop with photonics will be able to grow and learn – and maybe in 20 years, they’ll be in Las Vegas for CES showing us the future generations of photonics-enabled miracles.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#FacesofPhotonics: Rising Researcher Alina Zare

SPIE's #FacesofPhotonics is sharing the story of Alina Zare, Associate Professor at the The Machine Learning and Sensing Lab at the University of Florida. Dr. Zare was recognized as a 2018 Rising Researcher for her work in Electronic Imaging & Signal Processing, at the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing conference.

This program recognizes early career professionals who conduct outstanding research in the defense, commercial, and scientific sensing, imaging, optics, or related fields. If you want to learn more about the program, the details are here.

Enjoy the interview with Alina!

1. Tell us about when you first became interested in optics and photonics. In my senior year of  undergraduate studies in computer science, I was taking an Image Processing elective.  I really enjoyed the course, and the professor for the class, Dr. Gerhard Ritter, encouraged me to do some undergraduate research.  
So I joined Dr. Paul Gader's research lab as a undergraduate researcher where I he…

#FacesofPhotonics: Photovoltaics PhD Student Arfa Karani

Meet this week's SPIE Faces of Photonics feature, Arfa Karani. Arfa is a physics PhD student at the University of Cambridge, studying the physics of solar cells. She is originally from India, but has lived outside her home country for many years while pursuing her education. 

Arfa was also President of the SPIE Student Chapter at the University of Cambridge in 2017-18, and continues to remain involved with the chapter when she's not hard at work in the university's Cavendish Lab.


Enjoy her interview!




1. How did you become interested in the optics and photonics field? Was there a person who inspired you?

My physics teacher at school inspired me. I got interested in studying optics because my curiosity was satisfied by this teacher, who was extremely enthusiastic about what they did. When you ask too many questions as a child, people try to divert your attention once they are tired of answering. Not this teacher.

I know it’s a bit cliché, but I was amazed by how one could cre…

Lighting Their Way

It's a feast for the science-curious senses: in June, two cohorts of two dozen middle-school girls came together for the free, STEM-focused, four-day-long Physics Wonder Girls Camp sessions organized by Dr. Roberto Ramos, associate professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

The girls studied the properties of light, built telescopes, designed and engineered submersible robots, and learned about scientific professions directly from the experts: nanoscientist and Chair of Bryn Mawr College's Physics Department Dr. Xuemei Cheng; INTEL software engineer Dr. Marisa Bauza-Roman; and several female food scientists from Puratos, a global company working with bakers and chocolatiers to assess the best ways to improve their products, all came and talked about their professions, answering questions and interacting with the campers. Plus, they got to be on TV!

The camp was initially inspired by Dr. Ramos' daughter Kristiana who expressed interest in the s…