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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Dealing With Change

Mixed weather, but useful knowledge at Photonics West, AIA Conference
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By Barry Hochfelder

January definitely closed out with a busy rush. First, there was SPIE Photonics West in San Jose, where the temperature hovered in the low 40s and it rained constantly. Very un-California-like, except that coming from Chicago I have no right to complain. After a couple of days home I, like many of you, packed and traveled to Orlando, Fla., for the annual Automated Imaging Association Business Conference. (The weather was glorious, but what would you expect at Disneyworld?)

At Photonics West, more than 17,500 attendees were treated to 3,200 presentations in 85 conferences. In addition, they found time to visit with many of the nearly 1,200 exhibitors checking out new innovations and technological advances. The AIA business conference, which teed off with a golf outing sponsored by Advanced Imaging, had 200 attendees.

Both events dealt with the world's economy, especially as it affected the imaging industry. During a panel discussion at Photonics, Robert Edmund, CEO of Edmund Optics, considered the volatility of the stock market and predicted that the U.S. market would be "a tough one" in 2008. "It's very difficult to imagine that you're going to get businessmen making big, critical decisions in the environment we're sitting in, so I don't see how we can possibly see a robust market for '08," he said, adding that he expected non-U.S. markets to be stronger in the coming year.

Another session, titled "China: Customer, Competitor, Conundrum?" took a look at doing business in that growing market. China is the fourth largest economy in the world. Robert Huang, CEO of Singapore-based Wavelength Technology, said China began shifting from a planned economy in 1980 and that the shift has generated high growth rates, ranging from 8-10 percent over the last 25 years.

At AIA, keynote speaker Lawrence Chimerine, managing director and chief economist at the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, D.C., discussed The New Global Business Environment. Attendees almost cheered when he said, "we are nowhere near a recession" in the United States. He does expect very slow growth until oil prices dome down and the credit crunch/housing crisis comes to an end.

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