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.

 

 

 

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

Virtual and Augmented Reality: a Holographic Future

augmented reality minecraft

Microsoft HoloLens Display (Source: Wired)

Innovation is happening in the virtual reality and augmented reality universe, and VC firms are investing in it significantly.  Much like the “holodeck” in Star Trek – a room that can change into any location in the universe via holographic image—these wearable alternate reality devices plunge users into another world.  Oculus Rift is currently the leading virtual reality product, and, as recently announced in Wired, Microsoft has been developing what they call HoloLens, an augmented reality headset that layers a multi-dimensional cyber world on top of the real world.  These systems create an amazing array of opportunities to collaborate, visualize, create, experiment, and, of course, play.

Augmented reality headset

HoloLens Augmented Reality Headset (Wired)

The new Hololens’ depth camera has a field of vision that spans 120 by 120 degrees, so it can sense your hands even when they are almost outstretched.  As many as 18 sensors flood the device with data every second, all managed with an onboard CPU.  Users control the device by gesture recognition, voice, and gaze. Scenes might be anything from a 3D video game to the landscape of Mars.  In fact, the Mars hologram was so impressive that NASA has signed on to use the system right away so that agency scientists can use it to collaborate on a mission.

In addition to Oculus Rift, other virtual reality systems include the Zeiss VR One and the Samsung Gear VR.  The HoloLens, still in development, is being touted as very ambitious and bold, and will be a unique and groundbreaking augmented reality system that combines reality with virtual surroundings.  People will expect a thrilling ride when it arrives, and it will be a delight to see the inventive applications developers come up with to maximize this technology.

Emerging Technologies and Active Alignment

In Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, there are several exciting areas in which technologies depend on optical components and camera modules for key functions – functions that likely are dependent upon clarity of images and require active alignment for their optics.  The most prominent are gesture control, virtual reality, augmented reality, and autonomous vehicles.  Of those, the most advanced one on the cycle is gesture control technology; according to Gartner, its “plateau of productivity,” in which mainstream adoption begins to take place, will be reached in 2-5 years.

Gartner's 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

Gesture control technology has been embraced by companies that range from small venture-funded start-ups to large corporations looking for the next big thing.  Some companies, such as Samsung, are partnering with these start-ups to incorporate gesture recognition in their next generation models of televisions or other electronics.  Others are forging ahead with their own cutting-edge products; for example, Intel has recently publicized its wide-ranging RealSense Technology, by which a camera in the computer can see in 3D, recognize gestures, and take refocusable photos.

At Kasalis, we are fostering innovation at the intersection of software and optics, providing precision active alignment for optics that can then be used to clearly and accurately translate hand movements, or gestures, into commands that the software can understand.  We are thrilled that camera module and optical quality has become a top priority for the most cutting-edge technologies, and delighted, knowing that our technology plays a key support role in their advancement.

Cameras, Machine Vision, and Gesture Control Innovations

A demonstration of gesture control using a 3D camera. (Image credit: Intel Free Press, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Will gesture recognition transform our mobile phone, tv, and computer experiences?  Certainly leading companies in the space, such as PrimeSense and EyeSight Mobile Technologies, believe so.  Technology-savvy consumers may see this giant wave of innovations coming: gesture recognition, à la tv drama NCIS, whose cutting-edge video screen walls allow people to grab and expand files almost physically with their hands, is likely coming to a device near you, bringing with it an endless array of gesture-controlled apps and games.

The latest news is that app developers are beginning to consider transforming their apps with a new user interface – one that uses gesture control instead of the touchscreen, much like that found in the  Wii or Kinect gaming systems, but more advanced.  If new phones come with a gesture mode, then what’s next for automotive dashboard controls, kitchen appliances, and light switches?

An amazing array of technologies are possible with this technology, but given that even a touchscreen can be accidentally touched the wrong way, very careful thought must be given to the gestures that are used to control these devices.  One wouldn’t want to walk by the television swinging his arms, and by doing so accidentally trigger a pay-per-view movie  – this is referred to as “noise” by industry professionals.  The goal is to have a system that recognizes the difference between noise and a real gesture.  If you cannot scratch your chin in front of these cameras, customers will not be pleased.

Hopefully, given the new graphic acceleration being used in the latest gesture recognition technology, greater precision will be in place for mass market applications.  According to this article in CNET, the next round of shipments from Lenovo, Toshiba, and Philips will include products with the latest gesture recognition technology from EyeSight built in.  Only time will tell if it truly catches on, whether people are willing to switch to a new type of control pad, and what are truly the biggest challenges in this space.