3D sensing has arrived. It has been around for a long time, but finally arrived in the high volume devices that make this really exciting. The Microsoft Xbox Kinect was a great toy and Apple’s FaceID will allow us to immerse ourselves in augmented reality. But, there are so many other applications that will follow now that we have the ability to put 3D sensing capabilities onto billions of handsets every year. That’s where camera phones started in the 1990’s and provided the technology to create applications that we quickly couldn’t live without today – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, even FaceTime. All of them were enabled by the fact that every phone and mobile device eventually had a camera. And now that we can integrate 3D sensing technologies into mobile devices, there will be new apps that we haven’t yet imagined, and won’t be able to live without soon. We, as an industry, have already overcome tremendous manufacturing challenges to bring 3D sensing to the mobile platform. So what are the industry-wide challenges that we need to address in order to deliver the next killer app? How do we make that happen? How do we enable the new reality?
5G is it. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for – the wireless revolution. It won’t just give you higher speed and faster downloads, it is the network that will provide connectivity for EVERYTHING, all of the time. High speed mobile data, Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, AR/VR/MR ….. and it’s all starting now. 3G and 4G systems were evolutionary, building on earlier generations of technologies and offered only incremental improvements to the networks and society. But now, in order to provide this revolutionary new connectivity, 5G wireless networks will require significant advancements in technology and service delivery. Everything from new handsets, new frequency bands, more towers, and additional backbone capacity with even higher speed. How do we get there? And what are the challenges facing our industry as we begin this revolution?
LiDAR is transforming the automotive industry as we know it. There is no question that we will have fully autonomous vehicles, the only question is when. Low cost, high performance, and reliable LiDAR systems are the key to the answer…. and the race is on. There are over 80 companies working today to commercialize automotive LiDAR systems, all with a unique approach to the transmitter, the sensor, the software, the packaging, and all seem to have THE answer. What are the biggest challenges to autonomous vehicle nirvana? Are they technical? Regulatory? Human acceptance? Suppliers and manufacturers? And what are we going to do about them?
Silicon Photonics is emerging as an exciting platform. It has the promise to transform optical systems by combining the performance of traditional optics with Silicon manufacturing technologies that will bring scale and cost benefits. But, what is Silicon Photonics and what will be the impact? Silicon Photonics means different things to different people, and there are many ways to implement it and use it. The first widespread use case is to provide low cost optics in extremely high volumes that will feed the data center deployments fueling our insatiable, and continuously growing, demand for data. Other applications will include automotive systems, chip-to-chip communications, and even biological sensors. The integration of compound semiconductor optical components with Si is a powerful platform and we are just beginning to realize the potential. What are the limitations? How do we solve them? Where will we as an industry achieve our greatest impact?