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#FacesofPhotonics: Parrot Project Manager Clément Fallet

SPIE’s #FacesofPhotonics is a showcase across social media that connects SPIE members in the optics and photonics community around the world.

Clément Fallet
It serves to highlight similarities, celebrate differences, and foster a space for conversation and community to thrive.

This week on #FacesofPhotonics we are sharing the story of  Clément Fallet, Project Manager at Parrot, a high tech company specializing in drone manufacturing located in Paris. Clément recently presented his research at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing in Orlando, and was president and treasurer of the Ecole Polytechnique SPIE Student Chapter. He is currently an active member of the SPIE Scholarship Committee. 

We hope you enjoy his interview.

1. Share your favorite outreach or volunteer story. 

Meeting a Nobel laureate is something extraordinary you always remember. So, imagine meeting not one, not two, but eight of them at the same time and place! This must be my most treasured memory from outreach. 

Paris organized a magnificent event with no less than eight Nobel laureates to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the laser. I got the chance to officially launch our Student Chapter in front of them, proving that the optical community in Paris was thriving and that the future looked bright for many aspiring scientists in the Ecole Polytechnique laboratories. 

Some of them (especially Claude Cohen Tannoudji who is French and understood what we were saying to the kids) visited our outreach booth where we were demonstrating effects of the polarization of light. They played along well and listened carefully to our explanations. 

It was really inspiring to see such prominent experts and eminent scientists mixed with curious middle school children. I don’t know if our booth encouraged many school kids to pursue a scientific career but it sure motivated me to carry on outreach because I realized I was learning so much by teaching others.

2. Describe a memorable experience from an SPIE event.

My most memorable SPIE moment must be also my first SPIE event back in 2010 when I attended Optics + Photonics in San Diego. This was my first conference outside of Europe and my first time in the USA. I went there as the president of the newly founded Paris Student Chapter so I joined the Student Leadership Workshop that was facilitated by Alaina Levine. 

Ecole Polytechnique Student Chapter booth
at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2010
Besides learning all sorts of skills that were very beneficial to lead both my chapter at the time and my team now, this is where I met a lot of promising researchers that I still go to conferences with, some of them I am proud to call my friends. This conference was so intense for me; I presented the activities of our young chapter, I got invited to events where I got to meet so many top-level scientists (kudos to Katarina Svanberg who has been so inspiring), I presented my research, and obviously, I discovered the wonderful city of San Diego. I am convinced that attending SPIE events when you are a student is really a smart move to build your network.

This conference was also the first step in my growing commitment to the photonics community and my service to the SPIE community. It was my first encounter with Dirk Fabian who has been so kind to include me more and more and pushed and guided me over the past eight years to grow in SPIE. Thanks Dirk!

3. Explain your current research, and how it can impact society. 

My current research focuses on the design and use of multispectral cameras for precision agriculture. Precision agriculture and its intelligent techniques for detecting organic matter arrived on the scene at the end of the 20th century, with the aim of optimizing the investments and returns in crop production. It thus offers a sustainable solution to irregularities in crop growth, volatile agricultural prices, and damage to the environment. 

Agricultural parcels exhibit a multitude of variables: soil fertility, plant health index, biomass, chlorophyll level, etc. These variables are directly correlated with the productivity and profitability of crops. Precision agriculture aims to identify these variables, to understand their origins, and to act by adapting cropping practices accordingly.

Clément (middle) and colleagues in the lab
Multispectral imagery, the newest of these agricultural techniques, provides the user with unrivaled information on the condition and development of his crops. The farmer can use it to optimize his input and estimate his return. The recent arrival of agricultural drones triggered a revolution in the use of this technique. Using drones for the aerial transport of sensors improves data precision to a level never attained before, not even with satellites. 

Furthermore, their versatility facilitates quick and easy crop monitoring, making it possible to obtain an increasingly greater amount of information on the parcels over the course of the year. Their use has spread rapidly in the world of agriculture; agriculture now ranks second in the use of drones worldwide.

4. What are you most excited to see in the future development of photonics?

Clément on stage
Right now, I am super excited about augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and fully autonomous vehicles both on the ground and in the air. These applications are two sides of the same coin, they both require perfect knowledge of the surrounding environment to interact with it. They rely on the same technologies, most of them being photonics related (stereovision, LIDAR, MOEMS). 

The rise of these two topics in SPIE conferences and journals clearly show the trend. New developments from the photonics community will be necessary soon to boost processing capabilities, increase photorealistic rendering, and decrease size and weight of the devices. I see AR/VR and the autonomous vehicle as both societal and scientific challenges to which the photonics community has a lot to offer.

If you enjoyed reading Clément's feature, be sure to check out his SPIE Profile here.

You can also follow along with past and upcoming stories on SPIE social media channels:

Or search #FacesofPhotonics on your favorite social network!


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