LAS VEGAS, NV — Another indication that lasers and optoelectronics are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in consumer products was the prevalence of photonics technologies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (January 6-9). From digital imaging and mobile displays to wearable sensors and “smart cars”, the role of optoelectronics in the consumer electronics world continues to expand.
One of the big splashes at the show was Philips Electronics’ demonstration of a prototype “all-on-one” PC writer that uses three separate lasers to read and write CD, DVD, and Blu-ray discs. The OPU81 pick-up combines infrared (780 nm), red (650 nm), and blue (405 nm) lasers, all of which share the same optical pathway. A single detector works in conjunction with holographic lenses rather than separate objective lenses to accommodate the three wavelengths and the three disc protection-layer thicknesses. This approach will also enable Philips to more easily upgrade the device to incorporate newer lasers as they become available, without having to completely redesign the system.
Company officials say that a PC-based drive has the advantage of enabling consumers to continue burning CDs while also leading them toward the next generation Blu-ray technology. In addition, many developers believe that the PC-drive technology will eventually migrate into set-top boxes. In the mean time, the new combo disks eliminate the potential headache of having to own two DVD players; the new combination disks will work with both standard and high-definition players.
Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan notes that competition is heating up between Blu-ray and high-definition DVD as they battle it out to become the next standard optical storage format for DVDs (see OER, Dec. 1, 2004).
Mass production of the OPU81 is expected to begin next year.