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Catalyst For a Connected World

Photonics Spectra
Jun 2017
MICHAEL D. WHEELER, MANAGING EDITOR, michael.wheeler@photonics.com

If you believe the prognosticators, the Internet of Things (IoT) will fundamentally alter life as we know it in every conceivable way, from smart cities to autonomous cars to precision agriculture.

Mike WheelerThis connected world needs a connected infrastructure. And that’s where photonics comes in. Networks of optical sensors will monitor the quality of our water supply and the air we breathe. They’ll monitor traffic patterns and determine when to dim and brighten street lights, ease traffic jams and keep tabs on the mounting strain on bridges or dams.

In “IoT Unlocks New Markets for Compact Optical Sensors,” (read article), Contributing Editor Marie Freebody helps fill in those details, from revealing how sensors will adjust the heating and cooling in your cubicle, and how the smart refrigerator will keep tabs on when it’s time to buy butter.

If information truly is power, consumers with smartphone-based spectrometers will have one up on their technophobic peers — and be able to quickly assess whether their restaurant meal is gluten-free as advertised or determine the ripeness of strawberries in the produce aisle. Science writer Valerie Coffey’s “Spectroscopy for the Masses” (read article).

As important as good food is to good health, there’s mounting evidence of the role lighting plays in our mood, energy levels and obesity. In “Designing Lighting Systems Tuned to Circadian Rhythms,” (read article), Ute Besenecker of Lighting Science and technology developer Ken Appleman examine how advances in tunable solid-state lighting, coupled with the rise of wearable physiological sensors, have opened the doors to developing highly intelligent lighting systems that deliver the right wavelengths at the right time for maximum circadian benefit.

By the same token, plant health is tied not only to light levels but to soil quality. Nowadays, drones equipped with hyperspectral imagers and spectrometers are able to assess crop and soil health in virtual real time, giving farmers vital information they need to maximize crop yields per acre. Texas A&M’s Seth Murray examines these technologies in “Optical Sensors Advancing Precision in Agricultural Production” (read article).

Elsewhere in the issue:

Reflective objectives are an ideal choice for ultrafast laser machining and FTIR spectroscopy. Don’t miss Edmund Optics’ Stefaan Vandendriessche’s “Demanding Applications Call for Reflective Objectives,” (read article).

Senior Editor Justine Murphy’s “Interweaving Photonics Industry, Research” details what’s in store for the bi-annual “Laser World of Photonics” at the Munich Trade Fair Center later this month (read article).

This month’s special section on microscopy features an article from Coherent — featured online in the Photonics Handbook — that delves into developments in lasers that have allowed clinicians to fully exploit new microscopy techniques. “Lasers for Microscopy: Major Trends” (read article).

Enjoy the issue!

EditorialMichael Wheeler

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