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CES 2020: photonics technologies power industry and consumer innovations

06 Jan 2020

optics.org previews some of the new technologies on show this week in Las Vegas.

Visitors to this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, which opens on Tuesday, January 7th, in Las Vegas, NV, can witness a dazzling variety of new photonics-based gadgets – among them new TVs, wearable sensors, and numerous innovations aimed at the automotive industry.

CES describes itself as “the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.” It has now served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years. Owned and managed by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), it attracts “the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers”. Below, optics.org gives a taste of some of the new photonics-based innovations on show

More than 4,500 exhibitors will launch nearly 20,000 new transformative tech products to more than 170,000 attendees, encompassing 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart cities and resilience, sports, robotics and more. CES 2020 will feature new and expanded exhibit areas, 300 conference sessions with 1,100 speakers, and more than 1,200 startups from more than 45 countries.

Diagnosing disease diagnosis at 10% the cost of conventional microscopes

Miniaturization of sophisticated technologies has opened the door to innovative health-and-safety equipment that enables advances such as onsite, immediate evaluation of environmental risks and patient-sample analysis outside the lab. French research institute CEA-Leti's lensfree microscope for diagnosing spinal meningitis at a fraction of the cost of bulky existing systems is the latest breakthrough in this field.

CEA Leti says the technology costs about one-tenth as much as an optical microscope and can image up to 10,000 microscopic biological objects at a time. Protected by 25 patents, the microscope has neither lenses nor moving parts. The analysis results are available in about one minute.

The system operates with a near-infrared light emitted by a LED that is diffracted by the biological sample being analyzed to generate a holographic pattern captured by a CMOS image sensor. Holographic reconstruction algorithms digitally recreate the image of the object on a display. Artificial intelligence software then detects, analyzes, and even classifies biological objects by tracking metrics of interest. All of these steps are automated.

Osram presents diverse photonic applications that improve daily life

Osram says it is “unlocking the possibilities of next-generation photonics applications that are helping to shape the future, whether it’s autonomous vehicles that can “see” farther and more effectively, 3D sensing and facial recognition systems that provide greater security, or innovative horticulture lighting that improves food growth.”

“Throughout our more than 110-year history, Osram has always embraced change. The ability to transform our business and constantly innovate has been key to our remarkable success and longevity,” says Stefan Kampmann, CTO at Osram Licht AG. “Today, as we turn our full attention to the photonics industry, we are proudly developing leading-edge solutions and technologies that continue to exceed expectations and improve the lives of people around the world.”


The MetroSnap concept car from the Swiss automobile manufacturer Rinspeed is part of the Osram booth (#8516, North Hall) at the CES for the first time and shows what the mobility of the future could look like. MetroSnap demonstrates what is possible with visible and invisible light from Osram.

In addition, products and innovations in the following areas await CES visitors:

  • Mobility: Osram’s booth will feature the new, red eXchangeable LED lightSource (XLS) for stop, tail and rear fog lights. XLS is a standardized, easily replaceable light source that covers a variety of signal and fog applications.
  • Rear Combination Light (RCL) technology offers a first glimpse into the future of automotive exterior lighting and shows how to use rear lighting to communicate with other drivers and pedestrians on the road.
  • Safety & Security: In an increasingly networked world, Osram’s photonic solutions provide security, reliability and peace of mind. VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) technology enables in-cabin monitoring in Rinspeed’s MetroSnap, as well 3D sensing used for facial recognition in vehicles and mobile devices.
  • Connection: Osram’s intelligent LED technology impressively demonstrates how dynamic information can be transmitted in an autonomous driving scenario. For example, Osram’s Eviyos smart LEDs are featured in MetroSnap’s headlights.
  • Health & Well-Being: Osram’s lighting solutions place the focus on people and the environment. For instance, Osram offers a wide range of LED emitters, detectors and modules for vital sign and heart rate monitoring on smartphones and smartwatches, as well as spectroscopy applications.

Sensing and LiFi technologies for automotive and consumer apps

SLD Laser has announced high-resolution sensing and ultra-high speed LiFi communication technologies for automotive and consumer applications. The company will demonstrate these innovations, along with its high brightness LaserLight automotive and specialty lighting products, at CES2020.

LaserLight sensing technology measures distance from a safe, collimated, white light beam for mobility and portable applications. The sources achieve 1% ranging accuracy and provide a breakthrough solution for applications such as ADAS sensing, rangefinding and depth sensing, replacing radar modules, and enabling dramatically simplified 3D imaging and LiDAR systems.

Dr. James Raring, President and Co-Founder of SLD Laser, commented, “This breakthrough enables next-generation automotive headlights and other mobility light sources to ‘see’, thereby increasing performance capability and safety, while combining multiple functions together to reduce system complexity, size, weight, and cost dramatically.”

In addition to sensing, SLD has developed LaserLight LiFi communication technology that delivers high-speed data rates of over 20 Gigabit per second, twenty times faster than 5G data transfer. The white light sources can be collimated for long-range mobility applications or configured for floodlight broadcast to address large areas.

Smart streaming laser projector and Android TV

Epson is unveiling its EF-100W and EF-100B Smart Streaming Laser Projectors with Android TV – designed to redefine the way consumers and families can enjoy their favorite content. Based on the Epson MicroLaser Array Technology, the compact and wireless projector produces what the company calls "incredibly bright and colorful images up to 150 inches across on virtually any wall or dedicated screen."

With included Android TV, once the EF-100 is powered on, streamers can instantly enjoy content from apps such as Netflix, YouTube, HBO, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN, and other channels. The EF-100 offers what Epson calls "outstanding color accuracy and vibrancy for a range of streaming and gaming content needs."

"The EF-100 leverages Epson's powerful, high-end laser technology in an impressive, compact and modern design that gives users a new way to enjoy content," comments Rodrigo Catalan, senior product manager, Projectors, Epson America.

Brilliant Optronics turns glass into ‘smart windows’

Brilliant Optronics is a startup focusing on photonics, co-founded by Professor Tsung-Hsien Lin, the Chairman of the Department of Photonics at National Sun Yat-sen University, and the university's two Ph.D. candidates Heng-Yi Tseng and Cheng-Chang Li. Their primary product, a smart film that is capable of adjusting light transmissions, has taken the university more than a decade to develop.

Unlike a typical smart film, which can only display a black or cloudy effect when charged with a current, Brilliant Optronics' smart film is capable of showing three different kinds of effects. When not charged with power, its surface is clear and transparent; when charged with power, its surface can either turn dark or cloudy, or become a black transparent screen for displaying images and videos.

Brilliant's smart film is constructed by placing a liquid crystal molecule film between two PET films. By controlling the voltage applied to the film that forces the liquid crystal molecules to change alignments, the film can exhibit the three contrastive effects mentioned earlier. Users can press a button, a Bluetooth or WiFi device, or app to activate the voltage control module that allows the film to switch between its different states.

Hyperion OpticsHÜBNER PhotonicsTRIOPTICS GmbHSPECTROGON ABLaCroix Precision OpticsAlluxaLASEROPTIK GmbH
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