Trends and new applications of photonics: changing the game in mobility and manufacturing

12/29/2016  |  News | Trends, Partner

Photonics smarten up our whole environment: cities become smart cities, mobility becomes smart mobility and factories become smart factories. This is all happening because photons, that are optics and lasers, joined forces with electronics and evolved to photonics. Today the technological use of light is a key driver of digital transformation. Especially applications of photonics in telecommunication and sensor technology lay the ground for innovations in mobility and manufacturing. Let’s dive into the trends and new applications of photonics!


Everything will soon be connected, which means that the demand for network bandwidth is exploding. At the same time we want to hold energy consumption at low cost. The solution: photonics! In our increasingly digitalized world, photonics offer highly effective solutions for sensors and data transport. This makes it a key enabling technology for the digital transformation, including the internet of things, big data transfer or computation. Dr. Ing. e.h. Peter Leibinger, Vice-Chairman of the Managing Board at our valued partner TRUMPF gave a comprising and very inspiring keynote about new possibilities of photonics at the new.New Festival. You can listen to his talk again in this video:


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But let’s highlight two very interesting topics. In the context of photonics, two fields recently caught our attention: mobility and manufacturing. So let’s see what disrupting changes are being made there!

Photonics and mobility – trends and applications in smart mobility and smart city

What will the city of the future look like? The vision is: a fully-automated, intelligent environment that offers services for its inhabitants – enabled by photonics. Traffic jams and accidents are long forgotten with self-driving cars which scan their environment with laser sensors and exchange information with other devices. You can take a look at Emanuel Sprung´s (from Vector) talk for more insight into autonomous driving. But there is more! Connected systems can enable new services for the public space. Think of surveillance systems or location and guiding services that will show your self-driving car the next free parking spot. All made possible by photonic sensors and data transfer. Curious for more? Find out about our finalists of the Connected Mobility cluster of the CODE_n startup CONTEST here and explore their innovative ideas.


Photonics and manufacturing – trends and applications in the smart factory

Industry 4.0 and smart factories change the game in industrial production. With the application of photonics, the machines can recognize their surroundings and communicate with other machines. This is what we call the internet of things: all “things” in a factory are connected with each other, they interact with their environment – and also with humans! Sensor systems enable thus a safe human-machine-cooperation. The combination of photonic sensors and data transfer together with intelligent algorithms can transform our factories to a real science-fiction scene with automated, intelligent machines. Actually, we are already working on it! On the frontline of smart factories operate our Photonics 4.0 cluster finalists of the CODE_n CONTEST. At this point we have some great news to share: our partner TRUMPF invested in XARION Laser Acoustics, the winner of the 2016 CONTEST. The investment underlines their joint intention to cooperate on the use of optical sensors in industrial process monitoring. We are looking forward to seeing how this connection will change photonics.

Let’s close with an inspiring quote from Dr. Ing. e.h. Peter Leibinger in his keynote about the “code of light”: “Connected light is an enabler of the big topics: smart city and smart home. It will be a game changer in the lightning industry and it will be an enabler for the internet of things!”

Your company is working on photonic solutions and you want to see what new ideas innovative startups came up with? On our blog we showcase some of the most promising startups. Read more about them: