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Day 1 Illumination Optics Incubator

Sandra A. Gutierrez Razo, University of Maryland

Illumination optics illuminate a target in a desired way.  Optics are necessary because light does not know what to illuminate, so optical elements and surfaces bring the light where it should be. In the Illumination Optics Incubator, OSA facilitates an important conversation between industry leaders in the illumination optics sector as well as academic innovators. 
The hosts for this program are Chi Man Fok from Diffractive Optics Ltd., Hong Kong, Groot Gregory from Synopsys, United States, Julius Muschaweck from ARRI, Germany, Henning Rehn from OSRAM, Germany.  The attendees are a diverse group that represent the 3 major continents and span all steps of the value creation chain including theory, design, software, manufacturing, and system integration.  With the introductions the hosts give a look at the community as a whole with Groot estimating that the market for illumination optics is around US$500 billion annually and Julius estimating that there are 10 thousand illumination designers in the world. 
The Incubator really kicked off trying to shine a light on some of the gaps in the science and technology development.  The first session focused on the state of illumination design and on information sharing.  One major issue that is identified in this session is communication between designers and manufactures.  Man Fok from Diffractive Optics, Ltd. said that in his experience manufacturing optics, manufacturers are always fighting with designers over defect tolerance. He said that in real life it is impossible to not have defects, tool marks, etc., so much so that some designs are not manufacturable. The consensus of this session is that designers should be aware of manufacturing limitations. Steve Fantone from Optikos Corporation encourages illumination designers to visit manufacturing facilities so that they can see the process for themselves. 
Another issue discussed, and a large part of the driving force for this Incubator, is information sharing.  Most of the attendees are from industry. They know that although companies may be willing to share outcomes, they are unwilling to share methodology. It was recognized that it may be problematic to talk about challenges or innovations because it can expose the work to competitors, damaging the company.  Jeremy Sasena from North American Lighting acknowledged this could be a problem but noted also that if no one talks about problems, there is also damage because progress is slowed – both for the company and the technology.  Information sharing is a priority, but the standard academic conferences are not always the best venues for this as most of the advances are being made by industry. Additionally, often illumination optics may only be a portion of any meeting and may not provide a concentrated focus on the topic.
As the Incubator continues they hope to try to identify specific ways to improve community building, information sharing and education so stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog!

Steve Fantone, Optikos Corporation, discusses the cooperation between research and industry as Incubator host Chi Man Fok, Diffractive Optics Ltd. looks on.

Groot Gregory, Synopsys, moderates a panel exploring the technology gaps along the value creation chain. 
Image for keeping the session alive