The IoT Era and Why Precision Optics Will Be Key

The IoT Era is Upon Us

As the Internet of Things (IoT) swiftly expands to include more devices, the competition amongst them increases. Many IoT devices depend on computer vision capabilities, which have evolved into the ability to recognize specific objects.  In order to be best at seeing and recognizing things, these devices must have optics of the best quality and clarity. Because of this, we will certainly see increased demand for high quality optics to improve the accuracy and usefulness of these devices.

The world of IoT is predicted to grow steadily, although slower than initially predicted – IoT growth forecasts have been revised from roughly 50 billion down to around 30 billion connected devices by 2020. Within that world, there are numerous technologies that require compact optics, the most obvious being self-driving cars, drones, and security systems. 

The Importance of Optics in IoT Devices

Clearly the quality of your product’s optics can make a huge difference in its effectiveness and delivery of its most advanced capabilities; for example, the safety of a self-driving car can hinge on its ability to “see” its surroundings, and the value of a security system may easily depend on how good the images it collects are, for example, of a culprit.

The OEM companies that strive to impress consumers and wow them with great features will be the first to admit that these questions of product quality and attention to detail are always on their customers’ minds, particularly when they are forking over a large wad of cash for a new IoT gadget. Safety, performance, and accuracy all make a difference. In other words, tiny technologies matter.  Our active alignment technology may perform minute adjustments during assembly of the smallest optics around, but these miniscule details are the ones that create a big difference in the resulting optical performance. The quality of these optics is our top priority for customers because as many of these devices get smaller and thinner, the need for precision optics will only increase.

Hyperimaging: Superhero Vision

Out of five big innovations that IBM Research predicts will change our lives in the next five years, one in particular caught our eye, since it might just require some of our precision optics: hyperimaging technology.  Here is an introduction to this burgeoning optoelectronics opportunity.

“More than 99.9 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum cannot be observed by the naked eye. Over the last 100 years, scientists have built instruments that can emit and sense energy at different wavelengths.”                                                                                                                                                       – IBM Research

supermanHyperimaging technology is special because it will help us to see beyond visible light by combining multiple bands of the electromagnetic spectrum to add to what is visible; in other words, it will allow us to see qualities beyond what is normally visible, perhaps into the realm of Superman-type seeing.

Existing tools can illuminate objects and opaque environmental conditions using different frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum such as radio waves, microwaves, millimeter waves, infrared and x-rays, and reflect them back to us. However, these instruments only see across their own specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

IBM is building a portable hyperimaging platform that “sees” across numerous portions of the electromagnetic spectrum collectively, to potentially enable a host of practical applications that are part of our everyday experiences.

How will hyperimaging affect our daily lives? In five years, it could aid in identifying the nutritional value of food, detect fraudulent drugs, deepen the augmented reality experience, or help make driving conditions more clear. For example, using millimeter wave imaging (a camera and other sensors), hyperimaging technology could help a car see through fog or detect hazardous and hard-to-see road conditions such as black ice.  Cognitive computing technologies will have the ability to draw conclusions about the hyperimaging data and recognize what might be a cardboard box versus an animal in the road.

In all, it sounds like a promising and cool new technology on the horizon.  Check out IBM’s other predictions for the big five in five innovations here.

Celebrating 5 Years of Innovation in Optical Assembly

Optics Innovation 5 Year Anniversary

We recently hosted an office party to mark the 5th anniversary of the founding of Kasalis.  In our celebratory presentation, we reminisced about both the good times and the struggle to get a start-up off the ground and running.  It has been a rollercoaster for these five years: overall, very exciting, but not without its ups and downs. 

In 2012, we released our first products and were able to shake hands with our first customer. Soon we gained distributors and saw market growth. When 2014 rolled around, our numbers were growing so swiftly that we had to move to an office triple the size of our old one. We worked hard, traveled a great deal, and in 2015, our company was acquired by Jabil Circuit. We are now proudly a part of their Jabil Optics division.

Since then, we have kept busy, launching our Pixid 500 systems in 2016 and moving, yet again, to a bigger, more secure office. Now that we are finally settled in, we have time to celebrate! We are looking at a future with growth in some exciting markets, such as augmented reality, gesture recognition, and self-driving vehicles.  So…cheers to five years of rigorous innovation and collaboration at Kasalis.  Here’s to the next five and beyond, and a big thanks to our customers and partners for a great start.

 

 

 

Kasalis Has New Digs!

The new Kasalis lobby.

The new Kasalis lobby.

We are pleased to announce that Kasalis has officially moved to a significantly larger office; our new world headquarters address is 11 North Ave in Burlington, Massachusetts.  The move was made necessary by our expanding sales and security requirements.

Our new office space more than doubles our square footage and includes a collaborative work environment, six conference rooms, a clean room, manufacturing floor, and high security spaces featuring several integrated measures to keep customer information and products absolutely private.

In keeping with our drive to produce the best products possible, we have created a layout and atmosphere that is conducive to interaction, collaboration, and inspiration. Our modern workstations and furniture speak to our culture of thinking about how best to solve the challenges of the future. We are just settling in and making this our home, enjoying some cool spaces and a new ping pong table.

Updated Website, New Pixid 500 Alignment Systems

Pixid 500 Active Alignment System

Pixid 500 Active Alignment System

Our technologies and products are constantly evolving, so it was just about time we updated our website to reflect our latest and greatest offerings.  Kasalis has been working hard on its new alignment systems and software, which are now available and profiled on the updated website at www.kasalis.com.  Most notably, we have a new model in production, the Pixid 500, which is a high volume, automated active alignment system that offers a higher UPH for narrow FOV optics.

There will be more updates to the website and blog shortly, as we are busily designing a new office space.  The excitement in the office is building for our big move to a new, customized, and larger office.  Sales of the Pixid 500, in addition to our signature Pixid 300, are driving growth and increasing technical requirements. We will be incorporating special features into the new office space to accommodate our customers and our newest technologies. Stay tuned.

And please, in the meantime, don’t forget to check out our latest at www.kasalis.com.

Augmented and Virtual Reality Explosion

Headset for virtual reality

Headset for a virtual reality experience

While those of us who are adults now primarily remember video games as joystick- or button-controlled pastimes, children growing up in the immediate future will most likely have a completely different experience to remember as adults, using motion-control games such as the Wii and Kinect, or perhaps even more likely, using the position of their eyes and hands to control what happens. Given the intense amount of resources being focused upon augmented and virtual reality at the moment, gaming in alternate realities looks ready to explode into the mass market.

In the first two months of the year, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) companies have received more funding than in all of last year, to the tune of over one billion dollars, sparking an explosion of speculation about which companies will develop the “next big thing.”

Goldman Sachs recently published a report saying that AR and VR could potentially become an $80 billion market by 2025, which is big – roughly the size of the desktop PC market today.  The reasoning behind this growth is that AR and VR will not only be used for gaming, but in a wide variety of practical applications throughout sectors such as healthcare, real estate, and education.

However, the most commercially anticipated VR and AR area is gaming. Given the recent launches of both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (and the PlayStation VR later this year), the VR space is going to quickly become a tech battleground. In fact, there will also be battles amongst the companies streaming content to VR such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Stay tuned.

Kasalis and Jabil Optics

Copyright 2015 Edua WildeLast year, Kasalis officially became a part of Jabil Optics.  Our team here at Kasalis is eagerly looking forward to pursuing exciting opportunities as part of this larger organization, but will continue to operate independently.  Kasalis can now offer customers access to a much wider array of design and manufacturing services in conjunction with our own active alignment equipment and related customer service.

Jabil Optics is a division of Jabil Circuit, a publicly traded company (NYSE: JBL) headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Jabil Optics provides advanced optical design services, process development, supply chain management, and precision manufacturing for leading brands in smartphones, automotive, consumer electronics, and security.

As part of the Jabil Optics team, Kasalis provides in-depth knowledge of optical system alignment technologies and is now integrated into a full-service operation, allowing for one-stop solutions from innovative design all the way through precision mass production.

Smart Homes and Security Challenges

smart home graphic

Smart home      (credit: asid.org)

Inventive minds have created a plethora of smartphone-connected home devices, from thermostats and security cameras to locks that can be monitored and controlled remotely via the home Wi-Fi network.  Some of the smart products out there include the popular Nest thermostat, August Home locks and doorbells, the new LED color-changing lights from Philips, and numerous remote-access security cameras such as the iSmartAlarm.

However, the new interconnected home has revealed opportunities for hackers, including a recent incident in which a smart refrigerator was accessed remotely and used to obtain the owner’s email credentials.  This is one reason why, despite the useful nature and variety of smart home products available, the smart home has yet to be fully embraced and catapulted into the mass market.  In fact, recent research from Argus Insights has found that overall demand is actually dropping for smart home products, most likely due to issues of cost and the threat of hackers.

To solve the latter problem, companies such as Dojo Labs and Cujo have developed monitoring devices that plug into your router to detect suspicious activity. For example, if a hacker is trying to access your web camera, these devices have the ability to automatically block that access.

Hacked security graphic

The threat of hackers (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Security, both for the Wi-Fi network and for the home itself, is the current area of growth.  Another research agency, Parks Associates, has found that connected cameras have helped drive double digit growth in sales of home security system installations, with nearly 6 million home security customers using a smart home device as part of their security system.

The internet of things is a more promising concept when we are also provided with peace of mind, so security will be front and center in the upcoming years of growth for these interconnected devices.

Marvels of Micro Technology: Compact Camera Module Market to Reach $51B

So, what is on the cool technology docket for 2016? Some exciting new products will be coming onto the market, many of which will include connectivity and embedded cameras, ready for connecting to the internet of things (IoT).  We are thrilled that cameras are becoming more prevalent, and indeed, significant growth is projected in the compact camera module (CCM) market. The demand for thinner devices and higher quality cameras, as well as the now-essential automotive camera, are driving the market.

According to a new report by Yole Developpment (Lyon, France), the compact camera module market is likely to more than double by 2020, reaching $51 billion. Currently, mobile phone cameras account for 73% of the market. The automotive camera market is swiftly growing and will soon take over as second most prevalent in the market, expected to grow at a CAGR of 36%, and should reach $7.9B by 2020.

What else is driving growth? New technology shifts. In burgeoning areas such as 3D, computational, motion, and infrared cameras, multiple sensors, projectors, and others, high quality optics are required. Due to these shifts, the camera module will ultimately become the go-to product for multi-sensing.

Finally, in a boon to Kasalis’ area of the market, the assembly portion of the industry, Yole projected a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 20% (image below). That’s great news, and we hope to embrace and evolve with these burgeoning shifts toward multi-sensing technologies throughout the next five years and beyond.

Compact Camera Module (CCM) Market 2015

Compact Laser Projectors: Creating New Touchscreens

Ultra-compact laser projectors have given us the ability to see, and even use, a touchscreen projected onto a surface.  Also known as a pico projector, pocket projector, mobile projector, handheld projector, or mini beamer, these devices have now advanced from a simple image projection into the realm of the interactive.  Applications for this technology include mobile, gaming, hand gesture recognition, and more.  A few companies driving these technological moves into the future are Lenovo and Cicret.

Lenovo Smart Cast

Lenovo Smart Cast

Lenovo just announced a new smartphone, called Smart Cast, whose pico projector can turn any surface into a touchscreen. Although not the first to do this, the Smart Cast recognizes gestures to control the phone, and can project onto either walls or surfaces.  Using this phone, you could watch videos on a wall or play music on a projected keyboard (pictured). While there are few details available since it was only recently unveiled, it could be a promising device.

Cicret Wristband Projection

Cicret Wristband Projection

Cicret, based in France, has also created a promising product – a wristband with a tiny laser projector that will display your smartphone’s touchscreen on your arm. Using eight proximity sensors, it lets your finger, touching the projected image, control your smartphone from a distance.  Although it is still in development, Cicret aims to complete the final product soon, since its wristband has gained a great deal of momentum from the media and potential investors.

Key to these technologies are optics that provide clear images and accurate sensors.  Using active alignment in the assembly process is just one of the many steps these companies can take to bolster the quality of their products.  We look forward to a future in which these technologies can not only prosper, but also help to improve people’s daily lives through convenience and efficiency.