The human-machine interface is still a ripe area for development of optoelectronics-based designs for everything from mobile devices to automobiles, said Michael Lebby, CEO of the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA), at its first consumer-oriented forum, “Optoelectronics and Photonics Applications for Consumers (OPAC).” The two-day forum, held this week in San Jose, also included presentations by Texas Instruments, Avago, Shefenacker, Lumileds, Agilent, US Venture Partners, Stanford, Nanosys, Versant Ventures and Novalux. "We are clearly seeing the convergence of optoelectronic technologies with consumer applications,” Lebby said. "Consumer markets already dominate the OE market space, and new applications and technologies will increase consumer share of the OE market." Lebby said optoelectronic sensors for areas as diverse as automotive safety (e.g., drowsy-driver detection) to noninvasive blood chemistry monitoring will be key areas for development; combinations of high-power VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers), LEDs, OLEDs and microelectromechanical systems technologies offer significant advances in displays and lighting that will emerge in the next 2 to 3 years; and nanotechnologies are beginning to be deployed that exploit nanostructure effects in optics for products like enhanced phospors for lighting, biomedical applications and improved display efficiencies. In March, OIDA Vice President of Marketing and Business Development David Huff delivered the keynote address at the Nano-Giga Challenges 2007 Conference, hosted by and held at Arizona State University in cooperation with Nano & Giga Solutions and other organizations and research centers.The conference addressed developments in nanotechnology as it applies to electronics, optics, sensors, chemical, thermal and biomedical applications and was attended by an international audience. Huff said nanophotonics technologies offer the potential to greatly expand the use of optoelectronics in consumer and computing applications. "When you engineer light and materials at the quantum level, you can shake the bounds of classical optics and physics," he said. "By enabling the development of high-bandwidth, high-speed and ultrasmall optoelectronics components, nanophotonics is allowing us to change the realm of the possible." Huff said leading nanophotonics applications include consumer and computer markets; advances such as nanowaveguides, which may offer new life to existing silicon photonics applications; and new quantum-effect devices, such as light "freezing," which will offer unique optical processing capabilities. However, Huff said significant hurdles remain before these technologies become mainstream. "Despite the fact that silicon fabrication techniques can be applied, the assembly of these devices is still quite expensive," he said. "Defects in the devices must be addressed to fix loss and performance issues, and less expensive techniques must be developed for device integration and interfaces." He said nanophotonics technology has many other capabilities, such as in sensor, biomedical, optical refrigeration, display and solar energy markets. "It will be fascinating to see which applications pan out in the market," he added. OIDA is a Washington DC-based non-profit association for providers of optoelectronic components and systems enabled by optoelectronics, as well as universities and research institutions. For more information, visit; www.oida.org.