Each year the applications for biomedical optics continue to grow, technologies for the clinic and lab are developed or refined, and theoretical models become more sophisticated. I was interested in performing a very preliminary quantitative assessment* of how the field has been evolving over the last 10 years by analyzing the BIOMED conference program archives. By using an online text analyzer, I quantified the frequency that relevant words appeared in the BIOMED programs in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Not surprisingly imaging and optical appear most frequently, and the top five words are rounded out by tomography, diffuse, and spectroscopy. By assessing the change in word frequency over 10 years, normalized by its average popularity, we can also get an idea how the biomedical optics community has been evolving. In the table below, I’ve displayed the most popular words in the 2012 program, and how their frequency has changed since 2004. In bold, I have highlighted the words with the largest increases in frequency. It’s not surprising that photoacoustic has showed the biggest gain over the recent years. Perhaps more surprising is that microscopy has been gaining on OCT.
Based on the abstract titles and author lists recently made available for the 2014 BIOMED conference, I also ran a preliminary assessment of what topics will be presented in Miami. As we look to the future, it will be interesting to see whether photoacoustic tomography continues to become a larger portion of the conference program or whether it will plateau as OCT seems to have done over the last 10 years. I would not be surprised if cerebral applications continue to expand with the BRAIN Initiative.