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2020 Prism Awards Celebrate Innovation

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The 12th annual Prism Awards ceremony showcased a plethora of innovation: hand-held spectrometry, plug-and-play inspection, multispectral imaging, and more. The event, sponsored by SPIE and Photonics Media, honors the most innovative and groundbreaking products on the market. This year’s winners come from 105 applications spanning 18 countries, evaluated by a panel of international judges that includes leaders from both the technology commercialization and funding sectors.

“It’s wonderful to see firsthand the innovative spirit in action with this year’s PRISM award winners,” said Photonics Media President Thomas F. Laurin. “This year’s honorees — from emerging and established companies alike — have made significant contributions to the world in which we live. It is our great pleasure to play a part, along with SPIE, in recognizing their work.”

The 2020 winners, by category:


Innolume GmbH (Dortmund, Germany)

The CW Datacom Laser is a high-power DFB (distributed feedback) laser featuring up to 180 mW at 100 °C. According to Innolume, the laser can provide 100 mW at the fixed current in the whole 25 to 100 °C temperature range. This makes the laser an attractive light source for uncooled operation. The product will support applications as a high-power, high wall-plug efficiency, uncooled light source in data communications. It is geared toward developers and manufacturers of networking hardware, telecommunications equipment, and other high-technology services and products.


Prisma Photonics (Tel Aviv, Israel)

According to Prisma Photonics, PrismaSense’s hyperscan fiber sensing system revolutionizes the transmission-lines monitoring market by enabling for the first time a high-fidelity and high-sensitivity monitoring solution with a low false-alarm rate and advanced classification capabilities. The system is able to detect and classify events such as network failure, flashovers, sawing, and human climbing. It can also detect and locate multiple simultaneous events. Each system can cover 100 km and monitor 250 towers.

Health Care

PhotoniCare (Champaign, Ill.)

The TOMi Scope is a video otoscope that provides a high-quality video image of the eardrum surface and a depth view through the eardrum to directly visualize the middle ear contents. The depth view enables users to objectively determine the presence and density of fluid in the middle ear, providing up to 90% diagnostic accuracy, nearly doubling that of the gold standard of otoscopy (50%), according to PhotoniCare. Exams are quickly and easily shared with patients or placed into the EMR (electronic medical record), and the depth imaging portion of the exam may be submitted for reimbursement to insurance payers.

Life Sciences

TERA-print (Skokie, Ill.)

The TERA-Fab E series delivers the nanoprinting experience with a combination of speed, resolution, design flexibility, and materials generality for a lower price, according to TERA-print. The platform seamlessly integrates state-of-the-art structured light illumination with ultraprecise optomechanics to enable rapid printing of millimeter-scale, arbitrary designs with a diffraction-unlimited (sub-250 nm) resolution, using massively parallel arrays of hundreds of thousands of independently actuatable near-field probes. A compact benchtop format, combined with a custom-built, user-friendly interface, makes the E series useful for researchers who need to prototype cutting-edge nanostructured devices.


Inspekto (Tel Aviv, Israel)

The INSPEKTO S70 is a plug-and-play system for visual quality inspection that can be installed in 30 to 45 min without an external systems integrator or machine vision expertise. According to the company, the system is versatile and suitable for a wide variety of products and lines. It can inspect multiple products simultaneously and can be moved and set up again in minutes to begin inspecting at another point on the line. The system is designed to appeal directly to the customer rather than the systems integrator.

Quality Control

CloudMinds Technology Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.)

The Smart MEMs Handheld Raman XI2 is a cloud AI hand-held Raman spectrometer with MEMs scanning mirrors for area sampling. Using a Lissajous scanning mechanism, the laser beam is rapidly directed over a rectangular area that is linearly adjustable. According to CloudMinds, this fast-scanning mechanism minimizes the exposure of the laser beam to samples, so XI2 can be used for samples that tend to be burned or ignited by a laser, such as gunpowder. With XI2, Raman signal over a scanning area can be acquired for more accurate results. XI2 also adopts CloudMinds’ deep learning algorithm for multicomponent analysis at all sampling points to reveal a sample’s heterogeneity.

Safety and Security

Pendar Technologies (Cambridge, Mass.)

According to Pendar, the Pendar X10 is the only hand-held, point-and-shoot system that can identify almost any material from up to 1 m away without the need for eye protection, and it is rugged enough for hazmat and narcotics applications. The system enables rapid chemical identification, including highly fluorescent, dark, and sensitive materials. No sample contact is required; measurements can be taken through plastic bags or windows. By increasing measurement distance and strongly reducing the risks of laser-induced explosion and eye damage, the system offers increased levels of safety, accuracy, and speed in the field. Simple point-and-shoot technology delivers results quickly (typically in <10 s).


Outsight (Paris)

The Outsight 3D Semantic Camera brings full situation awareness in real time, in a single device, with localization, perception, and semantics, according to Outsight. The active 3D multispectral camera provides point-wise classification and material identification (including skin, plastic, snow, ice, asphalt, metal, and cotton), blended into a single 3D stream of data with 3D range and RGB, full vector velocity for each point, and SLAM on Chip (simultaneous localization and mapping). The device fuses a new broadband high-power laser source (SWIR band) with embedded software that provides advanced processing, such as classification and object detection, without requiring machine learning (no data sets).

Vision Technologies

WaveOptics (Abingdon, England)

WaveOptics diffractive waveguides are key components in AR smart glasses and wearables. The company says its waveguides solve the two biggest challenges in scaling AR wearables: superior optical performance and low-cost mass manufacture. The technology produces the largest eye box possible, along with 2D pupil expansion methods, for binocular viewing with a wide field of view. Images are clear, crisp, and high contrast. The waveguides are lightweight and designed specifically to integrate into AR wearables, with mass manufacturing in mind. They can be customized to allow product differentiation, as well as manufactured at scale using standard industry processes.

Mar/Apr 2020
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