It seems incredible to think that, until 2007, most of us didn’t have access to the internet of things from our pocket or purse. Smartphones, other smart tech, and electronics have been rapidly evolving and changing in the last few decades. And this evolution shows no signs of slowing. What does this have to do with low cost sensors and Photo Solutions? Everything.


Low cost sensors, electronics, and smart tech 

These days, “smart” is descriptive for a lot of advancements. We spend all day on our smartphones, which integrate with our smartwatches and control our smart homes. And, if we’re really connected, we apply smart tech into every facet of our daily routines. In general, smart technologies adapt and modify behavior to their environment and use this to provide data, analyze, learn, and make conclusions (in some cases). 

For this blog, we’ll focus on electronics and smart tech as it relates to photonic products and low cost sensors. To understand this, it’s helpful to breakdown the four main elements of electronics

  • Electrons as carrier vectors
  • Electrical circuits and cables
  • Generators
  • Transistors

Photonics come into play when they “replace electron flow, for transmission and computing, with a photonic flow.” It’s reasonable to replace electrical components with photonic components because of similar elements within photonics (i.e., optical circuits vs. electrical circuits). When it comes to smart tech applications, this can open the field for more innovative technology. 


Common applications 

There are thousands of applications for low cost sensors and electronics, but some of the ones we frequently see and work with at Photo Solutions include the following: 

Robot arms: We are proud to work with the most advanced robotic companies in the industry. These companies apply low-cost sensors to create products like robotic surgery tools, autonomous vehicles, LIDAR, and manufacturing robots. Photonics and optics play a role in the efficiency of robotic advancements by increasing their awareness of the world around them, making them more agile and efficient.

Conveyor belts: Automation in factories and warehouses can increase productivity and efficiency. We supply low cost sensors, encoder discs and scales, to various industries, such as OEM encoder companies, CNC machining, semiconductor, and assembly industries. Conveyor belts are just one example of systems that make entire operations more efficient, precise, and controlled.

Motor control: Motion control is a globally growing industry and one that’s grown for our company as well. Some of our most common motion control industry applications include factory and warehouse automation, CNC machining systems, satellite receivers, and elevators. Our clients like Nodo Film Systems and Hydrow create ingenious motion control products that use Photo Solutions components. 


How the electronics and smart tech industries are changing

Within the electronics industry, smart tech is on a growing trend. Devices like smart TVs, watches, phones, and wearables are becoming more popular and mainstream. As things like display technology, smaller-size designs, and mass production change electronics, what does this mean for photonics and sensors? 

In a sense, this change comes down to the materials used. Traditionally, electronic circuits use “bulk silicon substrates, whereas photonic circuits typically require silicon-on-insulator platforms.” With advancements in electronics and photonics, it’s now possible to integrate electronic and photonic circuits “on a single silicon chip.” Above all, these integrations are low cost, scalable, and are leading to more advanced pieces of smart technology. 

Wearable tech is a perfect example of the changing industry and photonics’ role. As one of the fastest-growing tech markets, wearable tech advancements directly align with photonics’. For products with “flexible displays and wearable biosensors,” photonics integrations are game-changers. Wearable tech relies on the network of sensors that photonics provide, from OLEDs, wearables that track vital signs, and even some that noninvasively measure body fluid’s chemical compositions.


Why choose Photo Solutions for low cost sensors? 

Since the 1980s, we produce low cost sensors and photonic solutions for global industries. Low cost solutions with far-reaching applications include our “peel and stick” discs. Using pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) and tabbed liners, the peel and stick applications provide a low cost solution. Whether your product needs holes, slots, or outlines of parts, we use our vision recognition technology to cut to your exact specifications.


Photo Solutions case studies 

As electronics and smart tech become more available (and affordable) to the public, we work with clients who no longer have to sacrifice efficiency for affordability.  The two case studies below showcase Photo Solutions’ low cost sensors applied in the electronics industry and beyond. 


Our client, Kinova, has been producing top-of-the-line robotic assistive technologies since 2006. The use of low cost sensors and photonics applications helps these robotic products function with precision and accuracy. 


Velodyne Lidar provides lidar solutions for autonomous vehicles, mapping, navigation, and robotics, to name a few. LIDAR is one of the bigger applications Photo Solutions serves and makes use of these low cost sensors to more accurately measure, sense, and record data. 


What does the future for encoder products and electronics look like? 

We wouldn’t be where we are as a company if we weren’t forward-thinking. And given that we’ve seen photonics directly impact and change with electronics, it’s safe to say that will continue in the future. 

In terms of materials, current electronics use silicon and silicon dioxide (“sand”), however “carbon, in both bulk and graphene form, might be the future element of choice.” Other research points to further advances in silicon photonics that will change on-chip optoelectronic systems. 

In terms of future product advancements, there are some exciting trends to look forward to. Smart home tech is reportedly used by 60 percent of property owners, and smart cities are emerging with big implications for photonic applications (lighting, sensing, communication). Wearable tech products and other electronics will likely see advancements like mechanical flexibility, optoelectronic medical tech (like ones for blood oximetry), and wearable robotic exosuits. In addition, 5G will also likely change smart technology, which might change how and in what ways we apply photonics. 

Overall, we expect to see much lower cost applications as software and hardware becomes less expensive and user-friendly. Not to mention more groundbreaking “smart” integrations that are widely available. 


Low cost sensors and industry applications with Photo Solutions

If you’re in our industry or one of the ones we serve, you know that change happens frequently. When it comes to electronics and smart tech and low cost sensors, the industry applications are wide-reaching. If you have a project that requires precision photonics, our team is here to make it happen.