Photonics Online's Ron Grunsby interviews Kevin Harding, SPIE DSS 2012 steering committee member and past president of the society, regarding DSS moving to Baltimore, photonics industry trends, and his opinion on courses of interest at the show.
Ron Grunsby: I am Ron Grunsby with Photonics Online at SPIE Defense, Security, And Sensing 2012 in Baltimore. I am here with Kevin Harding, who is a steering committee member and past president of the society. Kevin, thank you for taking some time with us today. I appreciate that. What are some of your thoughts around the move to Baltimore this year?
Kevin Harding: The move to Baltimore was in one sense a tactical move to get more space for exhibits and expanding. The other reason is that we had a feeling that the base that we had many years ago down in Orlando really wasn’t there anymore. Many of the companies had moved or they changed what they did. Consequently, you say where are defense contractors and defense establishments? Certainly, up in the D.C./Baltimore area seemed to make pretty good sense.
Ron Grunsby: What are some of the trends that you are seeing in the industry over the last year that have been addressed in this year’s conference?
Kevin Harding: The trends in this last year from a technical perspective include a lot more opportunities for optics and photonics. Optics and photonics in general have been growing in many sectors of industry, but especially in defense- and sensing-related activities. We are seeing the use of new diode lasers that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. We are able to work up in the mid-infrared and terahertz wavelengths. Those are all new technologies over the last few years. That has made a lot of things that we couldn’t do just a few years ago or that were very expensive to do a lot more practical to do. I think this conference is doing a great job of showcasing some of the variety of advances that have happened especially in the new sources and new detectors.
Ron Grunsby: As far as courses go what is the most exciting thing that you have heard so far?
Kevin Harding: There are new courses on things like terahertz and millimeter imaging. I did a short course on optics for non-optics people. I do one each year. What we are seeing is many more applications of the technology. That is pretty exciting. You didn’t have to go back years when optics and photonics were pretty much limited to a small handful of defense contractors. Nowadays, you are seeing a lot more applications in industry. We were just talking about the use of optics and photonics in the detection of oil and gas. That is the hyperspectral imaging, which is a very important topic.
Ron Grunsby: Great, I appreciate your time. Thank you for being with us.