For those in the industry, including a few of my colleagues, SPIE Photonics West 2024 was another week spent at the largest optics and photonics event in the world. For me, however, it was a first, and what a week it was. The time I spent in San Francisco with 24,000-some-odd attendees from more than 70 countries was a fast-paced and exciting snapshot into an expanding and fascinating segment of technology, and I already can’t wait to go back. 

Photonics West 2024While the extended program kicked off earlier, my colleagues and I arrived Monday and began the day by attending the Global Business Forum, where we had the chance to hear some presentations, meet new people, and catch up with others we haven’t seen in a while, including folks from SPIE. I love the energy of a trade-show floor, but events like this forum are a welcome change of pace, as they provide a more relaxed, quieter setting to have conversations. My only regret is that I didn’t get to San Francisco sooner to attend the entire event, but next year for sure . . . 

Optics and Photonics Growth Continues 

Onto the trade-show floor itself. Like most people reading this, I’ve been to some large trade shows in my professional career, but the physical space that Photonics West occupied was daunting. I only walked the aisles of two of the six halls and felt I needed more time even for these areas. Regardless, it was fascinating to traverse the aisles of the show and catch glimpses of the latest innovations in optics and photonics. The sentiment we heard from several people we spoke with suggested that this was the busiest and perhaps most productive Photonics West they’ve ever experienced. I hope to gain a basis for comparison in the coming years.

Manufacturing Matters Podcast at Photonics West 2024I look forward to spending more time at the Global Business Forum and on the show floor and seeing the AR|VR|MR exhibition, the Startup Challenge, and the Prism Awards. I missed much of this because we were busy recording several episodes of our Manufacturing Matters podcast in the lower mezzanine area of the South Hall. This was an incredible way to learn about what is most exciting in the photonics space today from an array of experts in the field. Topics included lasers, optics, metalens technology, artificial intelligence, SWIR, hyperspectral imaging, and much more. 

Over the next few months, we’ll release these interviews, but we are incredibly grateful to SPIE and all our guests for the opportunity to have some fascinating conversations during the event, and we hope to be able to do it again next year. If you are a company who has considered going to the event or joining SPIE, visit the SPIE membership page or check out SPIE Photonics West 2025, which returns to San Francisco Jan. 25–30, 2025.

Jimmy Carroll is Vice President of Operations at TECH B2B Marketing.

Learn more: