The Internet, personal computers and the rise of a culture that needs to quickly send words, images and data around the world are driving improvements in telecommunications. Consumer electronics markets, especially imaging, displays and data storage, have been racing to keep up.
On the front lines of imaging are digital cameras, which allow the average consumer to snap a photograph, immediately view it, and even upload the image to the Internet. As camera resolution improves, so does consumer (and professional) acceptance of the digital imagery. The "I want it now!" generation likes the instant gratification.
These images, plus the glut of other digital information that we generate every day, has also produced a significant market for high-volume data storage devices. The May issue of Photonics Spectra took a long, hard look at the key technology driver in optical storage, the blue diode laser. Its heralded release later this year should produce new consumer electronic devices that can store an entire feature-length movie on a single CD-size disc.
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