While it is common to interchange use of the industry and community in dialogue, there are some key differences—differences we really should not overlook. While both represent the coming together of similar products with clear differentiating qualities, the designation of community has meaningful connotations that most industry groups in particular only hope to achieve. When it’s a community, the members tend to cheer one another on as they celebrate successes, they turn to each other for help when they get stuck on a development, and they enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves.
However, despite the efforts of well-intentioned industry groups, the reality is that few industries ever achieve that sense of community. Instead, the thrill of competition often gets in the way of allowing businesses to enjoy the benefits of a true community.
Photonics has somewhat charted its own path. As it moved from being the cool technology without an application to the great enabler that has stealthily embedded itself within so many other well-known products, the journey has brought the many players together. It is amazing how a common goal and noticeable passion can bring an otherwise diverse group of people together—so much so that it’s created bonds even between staunch competitors that you just don’t see in many industries.
Having been in various industries in my career, I can tell you from experience that the community feeling photonics enjoys is special—and it’s refreshing. I hope those with this industry continue to capitalize on and nurture the many bonds formed between scientists, engineers, researchers, and business leaders—each fueled with the goal of bringing life-changing technologies to market.
The sense of community is always present at the larger trade shows like Photonics West each year and then again at the LASER World of Photonics event in Munich every other year. I look forward to experiencing the vibe and the welcoming sense of community that is sure to result in new collaborations to continue driving photonics technologies to the next level.
I am especially looking forward to seeing and learning more about the latest in integrated photonics as well as the many quantum advances. The potential applications for both of these areas is intriguing. And, knowing that we haven’t even scratched the surface yet in fully understanding what these technologies will ultimately enable is mind-boggling. What are you interested in seeing in Munich?
Please let me know if you are going to be at the show. I welcome the opportunity to connect with others in this thriving community.