3D Sensing: The Next Disruptive Technology

The successes of 3D gaming systems, like the popular Kinect by Microsoft, have shown the market viability of 3D sensing technology. However, just like any disruptive technology, the first application to which it is applied, gesture recognition, is just that: only the first application. There are still many other possible uses of 3D sensing technology unthought-of that can completely redefine industries and create tremendous market opportunity.

Learn more about 3D sensing through its use in gesture recognition applications.

Consider the evolution of the digital camera. Remember learning for the first time that a camera was introduced into a mobile device? It certainly hasn’t taken long for the camera to become as much a part of what we consider a mobile phone as a touchscreen. In addition, the combination of camera and phone has enabled completely new use cases beyond what was ever possible with a device that was just a camera. For example, today you can SMS (text message) an HD image to your spouse confirming that you’re buying the right item or use the phone’s camera and GPS coordinates to give you a quick visual indication of all the restaurants in your immediate area and their Yelp ratings. The truth is today, a phone without a camera simply isn’t a phone.

By adding the third dimension to systems, 3D sensing provides a foundation of supplemental technology that will extend the capabilities of mobile devices well past their current limitations. The ability to sense where the user or an object is in relation to the mobile device, to capture depth, dimension, and space, enables a whole new range of applications and ways to interact with one’s phone or tablet, just the way the digital camera has revolutionized the way we communicate, share information and navigate our world.

The challenge, like any disruptive technology, is that while 3D sensing is still emerging, it is too early to tell exactly how it is going to change our world. In addition, 3D sensing technology continues to evolve as well. Sensing technology using more sophisticated laser-imaging systems, such as those using our vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) is now available. These new 3D sensing systems are more accurate, smaller, lower-power, and less susceptible to errors than the first generation based on LEDs and edge emitting lasers.

What is a VCSEL?

The market is already beginning to embrace 3D sensing technology across industries. Companies who embrace 3D sensing early will likely become the leaders that define the future of this technology.

I am interested in any comments or questions you may have regarding this topic.

Check back soon for my next post “Technology Is No Longer An Island”.

OFC 2014: Meet the New Finisar WaveShaper 16000

It’s now over 5 years since we shipped our first WaveShaper (in October 2008, to Professor Arthur Lowery at Monash University, since you’re asking). During these 5 years we’ve been incredibly fortunate to be part of the ecosystem investigating next-generation telecoms networking techniques and have often been blown away by the things people have done with a WaveShaper.

The WaveShaper’s original capability to control both the amplitude and phase of a signal, along with the ability to route different parts of the signal to different output ports (in the case of the WaveShaper 4000) has been extended to the manipulation of polarization states (WaveShaper 2000). The WaveShaper Fourier Processor capability, which has been available now for about 12 months, has also proven extremely popular since it provides the ability to generate interferometric structures such as delay line filters etc. within a WaveShaper 4000 by controlling not only the phase and amplitude, but also adding the ability to share the signal at any wavelength between the 4 output ports of the WaveShaper 4000. The combination of these capabilities have seen the WaveShaper referenced over 250 times in published papers (according to the IEEE Xplore database) and we’re honored to have played a part in supporting peoples’ research successes.

We have recently had a number of requests from customers for a WaveShaper with an even higher port-count for use in system experiments, in particular for the development of Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) test-beds. In response, we’re releasing the new WaveShaper 16000 at OFC next month. As the name would suggest, this is a 1 x 16 WaveShaper which supports all the signal-manipulation capabilities of the existing WaveShaper family, including the Fourier-Processor capability which allows the emulation of high-port count interferometric devices not accessible using conventional optical design technique. Imagine what you could do with, for example, a fully-bandwidth-programmable 1 x 16 AWG demux? Or a 1×16 WSS emulator with arbitrary channel bandwidth and programmable broadcast-and-continue capability?

To see the new WaveShaper 16000 in action, visit the WaveShaper team at the Finisar booth #3645 at OFC 2014 next month in San Francisco.