This past March 20th I was invited to give a seminar at the Northern California Section of the Optical Society of America, held at PARC. Titled Advances in Optical Design, the talk focused on the emerging paradigm of parametric design.
Fig. 1. Parametric design in architecture.
Parametric design has been popularized by eye-popping architectural feats such as Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and Herzog & de Meuron’s “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing (Fig. 1). Those building’s free-flowing forms could not have been achieved without parametric design tools, which make it easy to explore a much wider range of design space.
Some examples of parametric design thinking, and more generally designer-friendly, intuitive tools, are starting to show up in optics, too. A favorite of mine is the clean interface of Semrock’s SearchLight, where you can populate a spectrum with excitation lines, long-pass filters, dichroic beamsplitters, and fluorophore absorption and emission curves.
I described two tools that exploit parametric design in the realm of optics. One of them is LiveIdeas, a high-level multi-domain system design tool developed by Kinetic River. Another is BeamWise, a 3D CAD design streamlining and automation tool developed by BeamWise Inc., a joint venture of which Kinetic River is a founding partner.