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Photonics in: Consumer Goods

Photonics Spectra
May 2000
Multiwavelength optical discs, high-resolution digital cameras, wireless Internet display devices and infrared-equipped automobiles let us carry consumer photonics to the ends of the earth.

Robert Triendl, Contributing Editor/Japan

People in Tokyo like to line up. They line up at 4 a.m. to obtain a box of traditional sweets or the tickets for the last concert of a minor pop singer. Long lines of people even wait for shops to open.

But never have the lines been longer than they were March 4, the day that the large retail stores in Akihabara, Tokyo's shopping district for electronic gadgets, opened their doors -- several hours earlier than usual -- to the long chains of customers waiting to purchase the first Sony Playstation 2 game machines. Within a few days, Sony Computer Entertainment had sold more than a million of the devices.

A high-end computer with impressive graphics capabilities, Playstation 2 is also a networking device and, at around$350, a reasonably priced digital videodisc (DVD) player. The design suggests that Sony wants Playstation 2 to be not just a game console for teenagers, but also the centerpiece of the networked home.

But Playstation 2 has also been a technology driver for the semiconductor laser industry. When Sony Corp. announced in September 1999 that it would equip the Playstation 2 with a twin laser diode, other diode manufacturers were rushing with similar announcements.


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