Photonics West: SPIE's awesome conference smartphone app

By John Wallace
..John Wallace
..Senior Editor
..Laser Focus World
..johnw@pennwell.com


So I'm here at SPIE's Photonics West 2012 in San Francisco (and will be here until next Thursday), and I'm as overwhelmed as everyone else by the number and variety of events and sessions at the show. However, I am armed with a secret weapon -- SPIE's free "SPIE Conferences" app, which I have on my Android phone (it's available for the iPhone too).

It has made all the difference. Yes, I still have the bulky print versions of the Technical Program and the Exhibition Guide. But they're staying put in my backpack while I use the SPIE app.

The app first opens to the "Conference Calendar," which lists current and upcoming SPIE conferences for the next few months, starting with Photonics West and ending (for now -- I'm sure it will be continually updated) with Defense, Security, and Sensing (DSS) in April. I select Photonics West and find the following simple menu under "Program":

--Technical Program
--People
--Exhibition

As you can see, the app replaces the print program and guide. But it has more: a list of the Photonics West attendees (all 13,023 of them), as well as additional info on the attendees if they're speakers.

But the most valuable feature of this app (to me) is at the bottom of the screen - the "What's Happening?" button. Hit that button and you get a list of every event, session, etc. going on at the show, all ordered based on the time they begin.

This means that at any time in the conference, without having to grope my way through a fat and unwieldy catalog, I can find just what I need. Nice indeed.

(The app can be found both in the Android Market and the iPhone App Store.)
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