Making it (in the) mainstream

In its annual review of worldwide optoelectronics markets that was published last June, the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA; Washington, D.

Dec 1st, 2005

In its annual review of worldwide optoelectronics markets that was published last June, the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA; Washington, D.C.) said that the total market for optoelectronics components and enabled products grew 39% ($66 billion) in 2004 (over 2003) to reach $236 billion.

“The driving engine for these numbers has been the successful penetration of display-based products and technologies into both the consumer and the computer markets,” explains the report, which cites liquid-crystal TVs and camera phones in particular as two products that exhibited strong growth during 2004. Both those consumer products represent the fabled “killer apps” for optoelectronics components, so it’s not surprising that they contributed to the tremendous growth of mainstream commercial optoelectronics markets.

As we move toward the close of 2005, there seems little doubt that, for the time being, camera phones and televisions will remain two of the growth engines for consumer optoelectronics applications. More than 300 million camera phones shipped during 2005, according to market research firm Strategies Unlimited (see p. 53). And progress toward what has been called by some the “holy grail” of laser applications appears to have made significant strides-to the point that a laser-based projection TV demonstration is scheduled for the Consumer Electronics Show in January next year (see p. 63).

But what of the next “killer apps” for photonics? In his Annual Technology Review, senior editor John Wallace highlights many of the exciting innovations and advances in photonics and optoelectronics that we’ve covered during the year and from which new markets may emerge-from negative-refractive-index metamaterials to optical sensing, and from the ongoing development of silicon photonics to the compact supercontinuum source featured on the cover (see p. 99). For still more ideas about potential mainstream technologies, take a look at what’s coming up next month at Photonics West-expected to be the largest yet with more than 2600 papers in the program (see p. 17).

Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

More in Research