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  • Who Has the Conn?

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2012

The “conn” is the area of the submarine from which the rudder is controlled and where the periscope is located. Fans of sub movies – and any submariners among our readers – know that “Who has the conn?” is never in question, as ownership is announced out loud and repeated every time that responsibility changes.

This is a position of critical importance, as the rudder steers the ship, and the periscope allows a peek at the surface without revealing the sub’s location. You know something big is going on when the captain takes the conn, and I’m sure you know where I’m going with this first message of the year.

Steering clear of some pretty serious surface dangers, both natural and man-made, has kept captains of industry busy for several years now, and despite signs of improvement, it has never been more important to keep a hand on the rudder and an eye to the periscope.

When I asked Managing Editor Laura Marshall to discuss her choice of a periscope for the cover of this issue, she said, “A periscope is a long-standing symbol of vision: It rises from the murky depths to give a clear picture of what’s ahead. And our annual trends issue is a periscope of sorts, guiding readers into the unknown waters of the new year.” Here’s what’s inside:

Surprising Surges, Cautious Expectations, Positive Outlooks,” by our managing editor, is a Q&A with photonics industry leaders including SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. The article begins on page 58.

Mass-Market Imaging Systems Cut Time, Cost, Size,” on page 68, by contributing editor Marie Freebody, explains how liquid lenses, 3-D mapping and ever-smaller cameras are bringing new applications to fruition.

Putting More Than Glass in the Toolbox,” by Hank Hogan, contributing editor, makes it clear that alternative materials such as polymers and metamaterials have increased in quality, enabling systems that can do more in a smaller space. The article starts on page 78.

Medical Markets and New Niches Drive Laser Advances,” by features editor Lynn Savage, which begins on page 86, describes the robust health of laser manufacturing due to novel medical applications.

A Brave New World of Photonics,” by contributing editor Gary Boas, outlines experts’ predictions about visionary applications on the distant horizon that could become reality in 20 to 50 years. It starts on page 94.

A number of time-, work- and lifesaving developments are heading our way. Don’t forget to check out the Prism Awards finalists on page 34 for a look at the most innovative products of 2011. We all hope you enjoy this issue and, as always, we welcome your comments.

Meanwhile, periscopes in modern submersibles are being replaced by or augmented with photonics masts, sophisticated collections of sensor and imaging technologies that cast that peek at the surface in a new light.

Here at Photonics Media, we augment the technical briefs and feature articles in our print publications with daily news and “Light Matters” weekly video newscasts at Read the issue, and then visit us online for an improved view of the horizon.

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