Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: Xarion from Austria

09/08/2016  |  CODE_n Alumni, CODE_n16 Startup CONTEST, Interview

Have you heard of the world’s first sensors that can detect sound by its ability to change the speed to light? No? Then read this interview with Dr. Balthasar Fischer, who is Managing Director of the startup XARION, which develops laser-based transducers for a worldwide market. With their sensors mentioned above, it is possible to get a perfectly linear frequency response and extremely broad frequency bandwith in both air and liquids. But let’s start at the beginning:

What is Xarion all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Balthasar: The idea dates back exactly 10 years. I was a Tonmeister (Sound Engineering) student at Vienna’s University of Music and dealing a lot with microphones. I thought: there is so much evolution in optical technologies, but the functional principle of microphones is roughly 100 years old and still the same. What about a new type of microphone, an optical microphone?

“Digital Disruption“ – that’s the motto of this year’s CODE_n CONTEST. What makes your solution innovative, what makes it disruptive?

Balthasar: We think that our solution is disruptive in the true meaning of the word. To date, every microphone and ultrasound transducer is based on a mechanically movable or deformable structure, leading to a limited performance. Our device – and this is the novelty – measures the change of the speed of light. No mechanical parts are involved. This can also be seen by our numerous patents issued in Europe, US, China, Korea and Japan.

Measurements of proton impacts with optical microphone at CERN. (Copyright: XARION)

Measurements of proton impacts with optical microphone at CERN. (Copyright: XARION)

You’re one of the 13 finalists in the Photonics contest cluster. Which challenges do you think young companies have to face in this sector? How do you handle these challenges?

Balthasar: Photonics means hardware and hardware means cost. Labs and expensive equipment is required. Things change fast, so you get to replace or update your interior quite frequently On the other hand, excellent people are coming out of Universities, there are many excellent research institutes, especially in our region (Austria/Switzerland/Germany).

We’re curious: how did you come up with the name Xarion? Does it have a special meaning?

Balthasar: Haha, no, it’s rather unromantic: we were looking for a free .com domain.

Thank you for the interview, Balthasar!