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I spent a good portion of last Christmas morning riding roller coasters, dodging creatures, and climbing stone steps through the maze of a medieval castle. Thanks to my smartphone and a virtual reality headset, I was immersed in the experience — right from my parents’ living room.
But augmented and virtual reality technology isn’t just for games anymore. It’s use is transforming the world in areas such as space exploration, military operations, and even health care. Advancements including faster graphics processing units and better display design are making this transformation possible. The growing popularity of AR/VR is evidenced at industry trade shows — among them, Photonics West earlier this year — where AR/VR companies from around the world regularly give attendees a taste of the ever-developing technology via demonstrations and hands-on activities.
In our cover story, Contributing Editor Farooq Ahmed examines the technology of AR/VR and the components that power it, as well as the rapid growth of the market. From freeform optics to diffractive waveguides, collaborative efforts by many industry players are helping to further grow the consumer market and boost the user experience.
Also featured this issue:
CO2 laser technology is advancing and in turn finding new applications — manufacturing, for example, where it is enriching work such as welding, marking, and engraving. Able to process materials including textiles and glass, these lasers are expanding their use in countless industries. Louise May, an applications engineer at Rofin-Sinar UK Ltd., discusses the development of CO2 laser technology and how it’s boosting manufacturing worldwide.
Sofía Rodríguez, developer of product- and applications-related content at Nanoscribe GmbH, explores the world of 3D microprinting. Engineers are seeing changes in the design and manufacturing processes for optics and photonics components on the micro- and nanoscales. The biomedical field and optics fabrication are among the industries now reaping the benefits.
In this issue’s EPIC Insights column, EPIC’s Ana Belén González Guerrero examines the European photonics industry and its role in furthering a new generation of optical components for datacom and telecom applications. EPIC is now partnering with the Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) to develop specifications that will permit the use of board-mounted optical modules in the manufacture of networking equipment such as switches and servers.
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