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Vision Required to Realize Industry’s True Potential

Karen A. Newman, karen.newman@photonics.com

In June, the European Commission (EC) tabled a plan to boost the industrial production of key enabling technology (KET)-based products, saying that Europe instead needs an all-encompassing long-term strategy to develop and industrially deploy photonics and other important technologies. The commission proposed an integrated approach for financing KET research and innovation to translate the work into marketable products and economic growth.

While acknowledging that Europe is a global leader in KET research and development – holding more than 30 percent of global patent applications – the commission said the EU is not capitalizing on that with growth and jobs, adding that KETs provide jobs that are not only numerous, but also high quality.

“Most innovative products nowadays, whether it is the smartphone or electric car, incorporate several KETs simultaneously as single or integrated parts,” said EC Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, at a press conference announcing the strategy. “But KETs can become a real job machine, which we so dearly need today.” Read more about it on page 9.

The bleak jobs picture and ongoing economic crisis are on everyone’s mind, but organizers of the Vision 2012 show Nov. 6-8 in Stuttgart are optimistic about a number of industry segments, including biomedical technology.

Biotech is an emerging global growth market, and machine vision sales in the medical devices sector rose by nearly 46 percent from 2010 to 2011, the show organizers say, which means that these devices account for more than 3 percent of total machine vision sales.

Because the percentage of visitors from the medical technology industry had increased substantially in 2010, the Medical Discovery Tour was created for Vision 2011 and will be a feature of the 2012 event as well.

“Medical technology is an important sales market for our cameras, where the focal points are maximum demands on product quality and reliability,” said Mirko Benz, a market intelligence specialist at Baumer, on behalf of show organizers.

“Due to the large number of applications, many different requirements must be taken into account in the area of medical technology,” Benz said. “They may include extremely high resolutions, support for invisible light – e.g., near-infrared light – or excellent color fidelity.” Read more about Vision 2012 beginning on page 28.

To underscore the current impact of biomedical and scientific imaging, Managing Editor Laura Marshall put some questions to imaging equipment makers about cameras for scientific research, including one about the challenges brought on by technological advances.

One of the biggest challenges to new advances in scientific imaging is data management, said Dr. Tanjef Szellas, product management leader at Leica Microsystems in Mannheim, Germany. “Huge amounts of data need to be transferred from microscope to server to analysis to automated interpretation.”

Markus Wiederspahn, senior manager of communications at Carl Zeiss Microscopy in Oberkochen, Germany, agrees. “All new imaging technologies deliver enormous amounts of digital data. Biologists and materials scientists are faced with the challenge to store these data and to do image processing as well as identify specific areas. New approaches like gamification help to leverage the crowd as a source of knowledge.”

“For scientists, doctors and technicians, it is how to acquire funding for the latest tools to take your research or patient care to the next level,” added Max Larin, CEO of Ximea in Münster, Germany. Read the complete article, “Camera Advances Drive Scientific Research,” beginning on page 24.

Also in this issue, Laurent Fulbert, photonics program manager at CEA-LETI, explains how the ability to manufacture optical components within the CMOS processing infrastructure is key to realizing the potential of silicon photonics. In his article, “Helios Brings Silicon Photonics Fabrication to EU Companies,” beginning on page 20, Fulbert says that, although photonics could offer electronic components new capabilities such as low propagation losses, high bandwidth, wavelength multiplexing and immunity to electromagnetic noise, the high cost of photonic components and their assembly can be major obstacles to their deployment in many application fields. The Helios project proposes to integrate photonics components with circuits to enable a design and fabrication chain that can be transferred to EU manufacturers.

A jobs vision put together with the imaginations of talented researchers, engineers and manufacturers has a good chance of realizing a strong future.

Enjoy the issue.


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