Robust industry support marks SPIE DCS return to Orlando

Nearly 400 exhibitors and more than 4,500 registered attendees celebrated the return of SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing symposium to Florida, showcasing a diverse range of sensing and imaging applications

25 April 2018

Plenary presentation at SPIE DCS 2018

Morley Stone of the US Air Force Research Laboratory speaks to a full audience during the plenary session at SPIE DCS 2018 

More than 4,500 registered attendees, nearly 400 exhibiting companies, 24 industry sessions and 47 conferences with 1,918 technical presentations contributed to a rousing SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing symposium in Orlando, Florida, this year.

A powerful plenary line-up - featuring SPIE Fellow Morley Stone, Chief Technology Officer at the US Air Force Research Laboratory, SPIE Fellow Ray Johnson, executive in residence at Bessemer Venture Partners, and Henry "Trey" Obering III, Directed Energy Innovation Services Officer at Booz Allen Hamilton - and a particularly strong technical program, highlighted cutting-edge research in hot topics such as quantum, LiDAR, big data and deep learning, hyperspectral imaging, and high-powered lasers, adding substantive gravitas and critical contemporary information to the symposium.

In addition, local industry presence helped drive course attendance up by 34% from last year for the 29 technical courses and workshops, with some of the most popular courses being Electro-Optical Imaging System Performance; Introduction to Optomechanical Design; Introduction to Optical and Infrared Sensor Systems; Deep Learning Architectures for Defense and Security; and Introduction to LiDAR for Autonomous Vehicles.

The event includes the largest conferences on infrared technology in the world, which generate particularly positive responses. "Based on feedback received from participants in the three infrared-related conferences at DCS18, as well as from my own experiences," noted conference chair Björn Andresen, "I can say that this year's Defense and Security symposium was the best of all SPIE DS symposia I have attended during my 32 years of participation."

"The XIX meeting of the CBRNE Sensing Conference hosted through the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing Symposium provides an unprecedented forum for authors from government, industry, and academia to address a wide variety of CBRNE sensing issues and technologies," added conference chair Augustus Way Fountain III. "This year we included two new sessions, one on integrated photonics solutions for CBRNE sensing and one on algorithms for detection. These are two areas we see increasing in importance and activity in the coming few years."

A special Fellows Luncheon welcomed five new SPIE Fellows into the Society, and DCS also celebrated 10 new Rising Researchers, an SPIE recognition program focused on early career professionals now in its second year. At a lively diversity and inclusion event, keynote speakers Lisa Gerbracht and Julie Fishman of FLIR shared their experience exploring ways to enhance their company's diversity and suggested ways for others to do the same.

In addition, an active industry stage and a cornucopia of the latest technologies in sensing, imaging, detectors, optics, and optical components contributed to an exciting week at DCS, highlighting the engagement, connectivity and networking elements that mark the SPIE DCS symposium. The event features the largest gathering of infrared camera suppliers, from high-end systems to low-cost devices.

"This is the big guys' show," said Linda Kondris of Mindrum Precision, two days into the exhibition. "We have some very large customers to start with and we're able to actually connect with them while we're at DCS: the Lockheeds, the L3s, and NASA Goddard.... It's nice to be able to make connection with them here. So on that alone, I could have gone home yesterday and been extremely satisfied."

"The SPIE shows treat us very well," said Debbie Blackwell of Fairchild Imaging, a subsidiary of BAE. "As an exhibitor, I appreciate that. It really is refreshing to exhibit at your shows, and this is one show we love coming to. DCS has always been a good show for us; BAE Systems is defense so it's really in our wheelhouse."

"We were thrilled with our participation in the event," agreed Figure Eight's Andreana Garcia and Jay Healy. "It was so exciting to see so many members in the sensor hardware space that were also working on machine learning technology. We felt that our presence validated many of the joint efforts that our potential partners are actively working on."

Throughout the week, engineers, program managers, exhibitors, academics, and other attendees interacted with each other as well as with the latest imaging and sensing technologies, ranging from those being developed in research labs to those moving into applications in both the defense and commercial sectors. Once again, the quality of work presented in the conferences showed why DCS is the premier location to find new business, exchange ideas and learn about photonics technologies in these fields.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2017, SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs.

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