The Promising AR/VR Market
The largest optics and photonics segment is display manufacturing, and its most exciting subsegment is headset displays for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. (Mixed or hybrid reality is also used in this context.)
Proponents suggest that the next consumer computing platform could be AR/VR, following the personal computer, the web, and mobile phones. This is a big claim, with some forecasts projecting US$10 billion in hardware revenues as early as 2019. Forecasters agree that VR will dominate at first, mainly for gaming, and later for entertainment. AR will likely grow and dominate in the longer term, for a range of enterprise applications such as health care and product design.
VR hardware is perceived to be easier to implement than AR hardware. While VR may be tethered closely to a dedicated computer, AR will need to be more lightweight, with a long battery life, and an efficient wireless connection. Moreover, to really achieve its potential, AR will need a high-quality "hero" product and an app ecosystem. This is the classic chicken-egg problem though, where there needs to be investment in app development to build an ecosystem, but there currently isn't sufficient investment because there is no ecosystem yet. If engineers succeed in coupling AR with smartphones (as the primitive Pokémon Go application did, without a headset), this could further stimulate sales of smartphones. This rapidly evolving technology could also shorten the phone replacement cycle, attracting smartphone manufacturers to invest in app development.
The chart from our latest OIDA Market Update shows several similar market forecasts for AR/VR hardware. These forecasts are from Goldman Sachs (January 2016), Markets&Markets (June 2017), and IDTechEx (May 2017). Just because they are in close agreement doesn’t make them correct, but it does provide a consensus against which to compare. In fact, OIDA expects that the next versions of these forecasts will be pushed out, as a couple have been already.
For more details, see the August issue of the OIDA Market Update. Also, come see presentations on AR/VR technology at OSA's annual meeting, Frontiers in Optics, in Washington DC on 17-21 September 2017.
Are Most Optics and Photonics Engineers the Sole Experts in Their Companies Trained in the Field?
Are most optical engineers the only optics-trained person in their company? This came up in conversation at a recent OIDA networking reception.
Most optics and photonics employment occurs within large enterprises earning over US$50 million in annual revenues. These companies capture about 85% of the revenues in the industry and employ or contract a similar share of employment. These large companies have many teams of engineers and technicians working on manufacturing and product development.
Not all large optics and photonics employ these teams, however; many employ few experts. Think of the system integrator—such as a smartphone manufacturer—that has enough optics expertise in-house to make enlightened purchases and integrate the components but is otherwise fully focused on electronics, software, and marketing. This is widespread among customers in our industry.
Most optics and photonics companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). About 75% of optics and photonics companies have revenues of less than US$10 million. The figure shows OIDA's estimate for the distribution of North American companies by size, using US$50 million as the cutoff. This distribution not unusual; it is approximately the same globally, and across other industries.
Within the small companies, many have just one expert deeply-trained in optics and photonics. (The expert's degree may not necessarily be in optics, but the engineer is identified as an optics expert.) The rest of the staff include technicians, operators, administration, and sales and marketing. (Expanding the definition to include other technical staff who touch the technology increases the count, but they may not be scientifically- or engineering-trained "experts.")
OIDA's conclusion is that most optics and photonics engineers work together in relatively few large companies, but most companies rely on relatively few deeply-trained optics and photonics engineers, either because of the companies' small scale or because optics and photonics is not their core business.
What do you think? Email your comments to OIDA here
Mexico's Ambitious Photonics Initiative
Mexico has been taking steps to form a stronger optics and photonics ecosystem with the founding of the Cluster Mexicano de Fotónica (CMF) on 16 May 2017. The CMF will be managing an industrial campus of over 900 hectares, with a proposed location near Mexico City. It will include a photonics manufacturing institute and a photonics-oriented university, with the aim of attracting foreign universities to establish a joint campus there. The campus will also include residential areas, culture and sports facilities, schools, and a mall, with a total investment valued at US$6 billion.
The Mexican government's economic development agency, ProMéxico, in a partnership with the International Commission for Optics (ICO), released a report in November 2016 calling for a Mexican Photonics Initiative (MPI) to make Mexico a leader in optics and photonics in Latin America. OSA wrote a letter of support that appears in the report, Towards a Brighter Mexico: A Technology Roadmap for Optics and Photonics, available in English here and Spanish here.
Mexico's optics and photonics industry is relatively small, according to OIDA's estimates. Most of its industrial base is associated with back-end assembly and contract manufacturing, such as the InP assembly operation first opened by Lucent Technologies in the 1990s, eventually handed off through acquisitions to Avago Technologies, now Broadcom. Mexico has assembly ecosystems in automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical devices. There are also some local optics companies supporting these sectors, such as for lens polishing.
The roadmap provides a timeline to build strength in four areas, called hitos or milestones. Two are in efficient and renewable energy: LED lighting for urban environments, and increased production and use of photovoltaic cells and modules. Another milestone is to improve the urban communications infrastructure with the expansion of a national fiber optic network.
The fourth milestone aims at improving Mexico's R&D and manufacturing infrastructure. It includes projects to do R&D in photonic sensors in the mid-infrared range of 2-20 microns, ultra-high intensity (petawatt) lasers, and optical network clocks. The roadmap also proposes a research and manufacturing center (i.e., the cluster) to work on these projects and commercial applications of photonics, with international quality management. The proponents point out that Mexico has experience with similar ventures, such as the Large Millimeter Telescope.
The initiative is coordinated by Dr. Eric Rosas, an appointed vice president to the International Commission for Optics (ICO) and CMF president. Other roadmaps from ProMexico can be found here. See other reports on national optics and photonics programs here.
Welcome New OSA Industry Development Associates (OIDA) Members
New Keynote Speakers Announced for OSA Laser Applications Conference in Japan
In its second year, The Laser Applications Conference (LAC) is an all-invited-speaker event for industry at the OSA Lasers Congress, 1-5 October in Japan. The event is focused on two main topic areas; Materials Processing and Applications for High Intensity Lasers.
Vice President & CTO, Gigaphoton, Japan
Progress of Light Source Technology for
CEO, LIMO Lissotschenko Mikrooptik GmbH, Germany
New Laser Applications Developed
Hear leading authorities, attend panel discussions and visit with your vendors.
Secure your place at this must-attend event. Register to attend now. Interested in exhibiting? OIDA members get a special discount. Learn more.
Last Chance to Exhibit at the All New FiO, 19-20 September — The Inaugural Year of a New Exhibition Experience
The 2017 OSA Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science APS/DLS conference introduces a meeting experience that has been thoughtfully revised — taking the best of the past and adding vital, innovative elements. Special exhibit discounts are available to OIDA members.
What's new for exhibitors? A lot! Changes and enhancements include:.
- New focus on 4 key rapidly evolving and expanding markets: Automotive, Nanophotonics and Plasmonics, Optics in Computing and Virtual Reality and Augmented Vision
- New location in USA's easy-access capital city, Washington, DC offers access to government funding agencies
- Longer exhibit hours than ever before gives you maximum exposure to new buyers
- Visionary Speakers from within and beyond the optics and photonics community provide insight into future cutting-edge advances
- Rapid-fire sessions in the Exhibit Hall draw more attendees to your booth
Reserve your exhibit space today! +1 202.416.1428 | firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, as OIDA members, you receive a special rate for your exhibit space. Booth space starts at $1,955 for a 10x10 space, and tabletop displays are $1,658.
Not exhibiting, but Interested in attending? Learn more.
Class of 2017 Innovation School Participants
The OSA Foundation launched the first Innovation School, 23-27 July 2017 in Washington, DC. USA. 28 attendees experienced a rigorous training over four days to harness their entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial spirit in a collaborative, experience-focused environment. Take a look at September's OPN issue Pathways To Innovation for more details on the program.
John Dexheimer, LightWave Advisors, Inc. served as a speaker and pitch panel judge said "The Innovation School fills a much needed role in the optics and photonics community as it indoctrinates attendees with practical business and entrepreneurship techniques they can use to drive innovation at their companies."
The next Innovation School will be held from 23-26 July 2018 in Washington DC, USA.
If your company is interested in sending an employee to experience this professional development opportunity in 2018, please email us at email@example.com. If your company is interested in sponsoring our school in 2018, please email Chad Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improve Your Optical Components and Systems with Engineering and Lab Notes from Applied Optics
Engineering and Laboratory Notes (E&L Notes), from Applied Optics, highlight laboratory methods and best practices technicians and specialists can utilize for the design, analysis, fabrication, integration, alignment, and measurement of optical components and systems. E&L Notes Editor Brian Monacelli sums up the initiative here.
Applied Optics recently published these E&L Notes:
View all of the published E&L Notes here.
Applied Optics continues to seek E&L Notes to publish. Submit yours today.
Call for OSA Award Nominations
OSA awards and medals span all areas of optics and photonics, as well as contributions made to the community, education, and innovation. Nominations are due 1 October 2017.
We proudly present the following awards that specifically honor the achievements of engineers, business leaders, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs:
Invitation to Join the LinkedIn Optics and Photonics Industry LinkedIn Group
Join 3,000 of your colleagues in our Optics & Photonics Industry Network LinkedIn Group. This one-of-a-kind Forum for Industry lets you participate in discussions about cutting-edge issues. Extend your professional network. Exchange information about problems, ideas and solutions. Collaborate with experts in your field. Now is the perfect time to build a relationship with fellow optics and photonics professionals!
Take advantage of your OSA Industry Development Associates (OIDA) Member Benefits
We are committed to ensuring the value of your OSA Industry Development Associates Membership, so please email OSA if you have any suggestions for new programs or comments on your membership.
Forward this message to your colleagues.
Not yet a member? Learn more about the benefits of membership.
|OSA Industry Development Associates (OIDA) Committee
Thank you to the volunteers who oversee the programs and services available to the Industry Community.
| • Alex Fong,
Gooch & Housego, Chair
• Claudio Mazzali,
Corning, Inc., Chair-Elect
• Henrik Skov
• Simin Cai,
|• John Dexheimer,
• Fred Leonberger,
• Mike Mielke,
• Martin Seifert
| • Costel Subran,
• Christoph Harder,
Harder and Partner