Light.Conversations: Ep2 What, exactly, is a laser?

What, exactly, is a laser? 

How is it possible that the same technology that is used to cut diamonds is popular for its ability to remove hair permanently, or even that this same technology can measure the distance to the moon?

That’s the ‘magic’ of a laser: its many and diverse characteristics – including the ability to generate light and heat energy, as well as its rapid speed and coherence or frequency stability, and the spectrum of colours available – means that the light amplifying qualities of lasers can be applied to solve a wide variety of problems.

Light.Conversations: Where did LiDAR come from, and where’s it heading?

It may surprise you to learn that, when laser first shot to prominence in the 1960s, there was no real use for it. Of course, nowadays, lasers have a place in almost every single piece of technology around – but, back then, they were more a product of a time of curiosity and imagination than usefulness and application. In fact, scientists from back then would probably be amazed if they saw how we use their invention today.

Lidar rules the machine perception space


Many machines need to be aware of the objects and spaces around them. This might be to detect when something arrives or leaves, to measure how high something is or to see how far away an obstacle is. It is the position of things relative to the machine that affects the decisions that the machine must make. Human centric visual characteristics are not important to a machine. It is the pure logical concepts of presence, absence and position that determine what actions must be taken. This is where lidar excels as it clearly identifies objects and can measure the spaces between them.