October 13, 2017

Trends affecting the success of companies designing optical products

Trends affecting the success of companies designing optical products

Early optical design innovations were driven by the military. The submarine periscope and gun reflector sight, for example, were perfected by Irish optical designer Sir Howard Grubb before World War I. Today, optical products make possible everything from space travel to aerial unmanned vehicles, virtual reality, and minimally invasive surgeries. Three trends in optical product design are affecting the success of companies making optical products.

Trend 1: Smaller, lighter optical products require increased precision

With the demand growing for smaller and lighter optical products, precision in optical product design has become paramount. For example, more precise, less invasive in vivo optics to view internal organs and blood vessels help health professionals more accurately diagnose and surgically treat patients.

Interest is growing in nanophotonics, the combination of photonics and nanotechnology, which studies the behavior of light on the nanometer scale, and the interaction of nanometer-scale objects with light. As just one example, DNA sequencing was performed with plasmonic light focusing (nanophotonics), so now we literally know what we're made of. The nanophotonics market is forecast to grow by almost 50 percent by 2020 (Technavio).

Trend 2: Controlling costs is critical

The broad adoption of technologies across industries is putting downward pressure on price, which is making cost control essential. For example, according to McKinsey Global Institute, the Internet of Things contributed to a price decline in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and has the potential to impact 100 million global machine to machine (M2M) device connections across sectors like transportation, security, healthcare, and utilities. Companies that make optical sensors for industrial, consumer, and scientific applications are facing this pricing pressure.

Trend 3: Being first to market is vital

Not only must optical products be more precise than ever and built for less, in many cases they must be first to market to make the largest impact. Biomedical optical imaging is an example of an area where time to market is critical. It is one of the most relied upon tools in healthcare for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. These technologies identify abnormalities inside the human body while causing minimal collateral damage to healthy tissue. Delivering new technologies faster can positively impact or even save lives.

Across industries, companies that develop cutting-edge optical products can gain an enormous competitive advantage by getting their products to market ahead of their competitors. This first-to-market strategy is putting increased pressure on product development schedules. Without the first-move advantage, companies can get left behind. This is especially true for highly competitive industries, such as autonomous vehicles and augmented reality and virtual reality (AR-VR).

Responding to these trends with modern optical design software

Zemax has streamlined the workflow between optical and mechanical engineers, enabling companies to develop cost-effective products that are smaller and lighter—and first to market. Using OpticStudio and LensMechanix together, optical and mechanical engineers can work on the same design in their preferred environments. They can see the impact of each other’s work because they are working on the same virtual prototype, leading to reduced headaches, accelerated time to market, and higher profitability.

Get a free 2-week trial of OpticStudio and LensMechanix today. Both trials include full product functionality and sample files. 

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