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Uses or/and Benefits Of Optical Technology

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Introduction 

                            Optical technology has got varied benefits to the users of computers that have embraced this technology or optical devices. More and more people are today using optical storage devices not because it’s the in thing but due to the degree of flexibility and affordability that the new found technology offers. Optical is a word that is used in the computer industry to refer to all the storage methods which uses or lends a hand to a laser to store as well as retrieve data from the media.

                            Optical devices are basically many ranging from CD-ROMs, rewritable optical, CD-R and the WORM (Write once read many) DVDs, auto changes or optical jukeboxes. While the WORM only allows for data to be written permanently in the disk, rewritable optical use media that allows for the data to be written again and again- repeatedly. The ever growing optical technology brings with it limitless opportunities and possibilities, in that Migration software for instance today allows the unused data to be moved from the original source location to another (optical device) where the data resides until its needed, and due to the fact that the only thing that comes into contact with the media is the laser, durability of the stored data is enhanced. The optical storage solutions are also used in several applications such as records retention, document imaging, and desktop publishing as well as in backup systems

                              Based on the above discussion this document thus seeks to delve dip on the above mentioned optical devices and many more with the sole intention of bringing out the benefits that the optical technology provides to the users of such devices in data storage potential as opposed to other means and technologies like Random access removable media storage solutions.

                            This section describes the various optical storage devices, their uses and the benefits that accrue from using such devices that embraces the optical technology.

                            Optical storage devices in order to operate largely depend on the laser technology, which is made up of a highly focused, controlled beam of light that may be either infrared or visible. The laser beam is then used to record data on the special optical media, to enhance traditional magnetic recording on distinct magneto-optical media and to also read data that had been recorded earlier off optical media. After the data has been recorded on the optical media, a laser beam then burns out all locations that stores a logical one (1) while on the other hand leaving blank the locations that stores a logical zero (0).The light is basically controlled by electronics that transform computer data into the desired burn and no burn operations and the location of the data on the disk. It is important to note that the laser in the computer only produces light enough to only read the holes burned in the disk. (Scomist personal computers 1)

Compact Disk-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM)

                            This is one of the optical storage devices, optical media is highly durable and more reliable when put under normal use. This is due to its nature in that the surface of the disk is basically sealed in a plastic coating and thus only touched by light. The other element that makes optical media devices durable is that the medium itself is almost unaffected or destroyed by moisture or varying temperature conditions. CD-ROMs on the other hand are also reliable as well since huge amount of the media is used in storing important error detection and correction checksums that automatically corrects any data that has been misread. (Scomist personal computers 1) The technology used also ensures that in circumstances that the read head comes into contact with the media surface only a small amount of data is lost because of the strength of the CD media and that of the electronics that are good enough to fill in the blanks.

                            CD ROM technology is basically one of the most common optical storage technology used on many personal computers today, particularly for multi media applications like photographs, motion videos, graphics and sound

Rewritable CD-ROM (CD-RW)

                            Rewritable CD-ROM is an optical storage device that employs optical phase change technology. This is special form of optical technology where the disk drive writes data with laser that actually changes the dots on the disk between the amorphous and crystalline states. CD-ROMs can be differentiated from the CDR disks by a metallic grey co lour. (Scomist personal computers 2)

Recordable CD-ROM (CD-R)

                            CD-R basically employs an optical technology that uses a laser source to burn information in the platter/write the information after which it cannot be changed and can only be read as many times as possible and rewritten to another portion of the platter but modification of the data is impossible. CD-Rs are basically written only on one side unlike professionally made CD-ROMs that are written on both sides, although once the label on the disk has been silk screened onto a single side, only the other remaining side can be used.

                            One of the major benefits of Recordable CD-ROM (CD-R) is that it allows or gives room for data to a up to of 650MB to be written permanently on the compact disk, this is helpful in that it provides a considerably enough storage space for ones data. Also due to the fact that the data are basically read on low cost CD-ROM drives, that are sold as single or standalone items, has made the use of CD-ROMs easier for many people since they are  easily affordable  and easy to use, not forgetting that they are also easily available 

Digital Versatile Disk (DVD)

                            A DVD disk more less looks similar to a CD in that both the DVD disk and the CD are made of plastic 120mm in diameter with a thickness of 1.2mm.another similarity between the two is that both basically rely on the lasers to actually read data or information stored in the pits on a spiral track. DVDs are used to store visual data.

                            One of the primary benefits of this optical storage device is that the tracks in a DVD are basically placed closer together thus allowing for more tracks to be contained in a single disk. (Scomist personal computers 2) DVDs also have a reduced pitch of 0.74microns which is half that of CDs which has 1.6 microns, similarly the pits in which the visual data is stored are also comparatively smaller for DVDs with a minimum pit length of 0.4microns compared to CD that have a minimum pits length of 0.834, this allows for more pits for each and every track. Due to the fact that there is a positive relationship between the number of pits and the capacity level (the lower the pits the higher the storage capacity and vice versa) thus the reduced pits in the DVDs allows the device to store four times more data that contemporary CDs

                            It’s also important to note that the specifications on a DVD basically allows for the scanning of information from more layers of the DVD by only changing the focus of the read laser. Also with the DVDs it’s possible to use a translucent layer in addition to the opaque reflective layer thus carrying more data, and enabling a single DVD disk carry an equivalent of 8.5GB of data or information without having to be turned over. (Scomist personal computers 2) Another distinctive benefit of the DVDs is that the second layer of data in the disk can easily be read from the inside of the DVD disk out and also from the outside in as it only takes one to refocus a lens from one reflective layer of choice to another in order to read the tracks. Lastly as opposed to CDs that use bits for error detection, DVDs on the other hand employs a better technology that involves the use of the Error correction code (ECC) which is more effective and efficient since it guarantees that the DVD disk would play if properly written

                            The modern mouse that is used as a pointing device in computers has also embraced the optical technology in that today we have got optical wire less mouse that are more easy and effective to use. The Microsoft wire less comfort optical mouse basically offers a more efficient speed and accuracy in that the optical sensor that uses light can easily track mouse movements without the problems encountered with the mechanical parts like the wire connecting the mouse to the computer. (Microsoft, online) This enables the computer user to experience a more smooth navigation.

                            Another benefit of the optical mouse is that the optical sensor that is integrated into the mouse can work from any surface and one does not need to have a mouse pad to operate. In addition the optical mouse embraces a power saving technology that helps one extend the laptop battery life considerably and at times even up to three times longer. (Microsoft, online) The mouse is also comfortable to operate and hold on both hands as well providing quality navigation since it allows for a four way scrolling using the tilt wheel technology that is a major plus to the computer user since it enhances ones efficiency while operating the computers especially when speed is of essence.

        Due to the ever developing world economies, businesses are increasingly searching for ways and means on how to add more value to their customer’s solutions by restructuring and incorporating additional functionality to meet the ever changing customer’s desires, throughout the world. (P.K Choudhury, 2) In a bid to answer this queries, Next window came up with a timelier and appropriate optical imaging technology to help achieve these desires.

                            The optical imaging technology that is integrated and computer aided is of outermost importance in that it allows a touch screen for this case to be incorporated for a very low unit cost into almost any if not all electronic devices that basically uses flat screens. This technology has gained a lot of credence due to its universal acceptance and applicability as well as its unique scalability. The following are the major benefits that this technology-Optical imaging technology provides to computer users and other electronic devices users in general. (P.K Choudhury, 2)

                            The optical imaging technology new touch solutions are basically effective and efficient in that they do not require any special software drivers to operate because they combine HID compliant USB plug and play interfaces thus providing more value to users. Due to the fact that the technology uses optical components, no level of surface coating is used on the screens thus ensuring that the images that come through the screens are very clear and highly visible to the users.

                             Light touch: the optical technology employed by the next window optical a technology makes it possible for one to touch the screen through the use of any method, be it by the use of the finger, various pointers or even a gloved hand, no pressure is required to create the impact on the screen, thus making it more easier to use any where at any time. It’s also important to note that the Next window’s   optical imaging technology basically provides touch sensitivity all over the whole screen including all the screen corners. Being that the screen has got over 400,000 touch points that can be accessed by the user, accuracy is highly guaranteed.

                            Another benefit that optical imaging technology offers in touch screens is that the touch screens are actually calibrated once at the commissioning time, this is because the optical imaging technology allows for continuous operations with no any drift, thus recalibration is not an important need.( P.K Choudhury,2) The technology is also robust in that as explained above, the technology does not employ screen coating; this ensures the safety of the users of the screen like customers in the case of business presentations in that their eyes are not affected by contaminations or scratches that may be caused by the coatings on the screens. Products made by this technology are basically well suited to the demanding public environment in that they can be sealed with ease for resistance to dust, dirt and even moisture that in most cases always constitute a larger percentage of the causes of destruction of most electronics and computers in particular.

                            The technology is also scaleable and versatile in that it can be used in a wide range of screen sizes and applications such as Digital signage to attract customer attention in a shopping mall, way finding, and exhibitions as well as in education and conferencing through the use of interactive whiteboards thus being of essence in our day to day lives. (P.K Choudhury, 3)

                             Its important to note that writable optical technology is actually the best technology in comparison to the other random access removable media storage solutions, this is so because of the following stated additional benefits.

                            Ability to defend against further time: Optical disks have got the capability to last up to seven decades which is basically longer than the traditional storage options. This is a major plus to the use of optical technology since in both the short and long run it helps replace the ever cumbersome paper based and microfiche storages with the more easy and long life optical storage (Osta 1).In addition it possible to build an optical library that can accommodate huge data in just single disks, and with the assistance of the WORM, technology the data is stored permanently and cannot be changed.

                            Safety and ease of accessibility: compiling files into optical libraries that are easy to access when there is need to retrieve the data helps save space on the primary storage devices. Data stored on paper or microfiche is cumbersome to retrieve while on the other hand the same data on optical storage takes just a few seconds to retrieve or access since optical storage affords the users a higher degree of data integrity. (Osta 1)

                            Speed: the performance of optical devices is rapidly approaching the speeds of the hard drive. This is due to random access which makes it possible/provides direct access to files, this translates to more than 100 times faster than the former tapes which performs sequential searches

                            Limitless storage: optical disks basically have limitless storage capacity due to the fact that they can be removed/ removable thus more and more data can be stored with ease since one is not tied to the initial space capacity. (Osta 2) More space can also be created through shelving older data to provide space for new data.

                            High capacity verses small space: optical technology has basically made it possible to store too much data while at the same time using very little space. For instance one 3.5 inch optical disk is capable of holding approximately 500, 1.44 floppy disks with data. Equally one 5.25 inch optical disk is capable of holding nearly 80 four drawer cabinets that contain text data.

                            Compatibility to international standards: Optical technology is quite flexible and manufacturers of these optical devices supports universal standards that ensure that the existing products can easily be compatible with future products that are yet to come or be invented, thus the question of obsoleteness does not arise.

                            Diversity: Due to the increasing need for effective and efficient modes of storing data, technology is moving towards a more diverse means that is provided by the optical storage technology which is actually the only removable random access technology/know how that scales from laptops, desktops to enterprise solutions in that the optical storage devices can be easily used as a storage solution on one or single workstation or when network storage needs, that is of higher level, dictates a high volume solution. (Osta 3)

                            Flexibility of data interchange: Optical disk media enables high capacity removable storage that last. The ability for one to remove the media provides a good opportunity of interchanging and transportation of large amounts of data. (Osta 3) This helps achieve effective and flexible data change since the prime goal of data interchange is to be able to store data on optical media through the use of any type of computer after which it should be possible to access the files any computer system. 

Conclusion

                            In summery basing on the above discussion I would like to state that optical technology is basically Avery timely technological invention that has really improved the way in which data storage in the computer is done as well as the functionality of computers. Today more and more people have actually embraced the technology with many computer users having integrated and incorporated optical devices like DVDs and many others explained in the body of the paper to capitalize on the benefits that come with this technology. In short I would say that it’s the best thing that ever happened in the computer industry

References

Optical technology, Microsoftwebsite, accessed on28th october2008 from

           www.microsoft.com

Optical Storage Technology Association ‚ÄúThe benefits of writable optical storage‚ÄĚ OSTA

           Publishers, 2003, accessed on28th october2008 from

          http://www.osta.org/technology/pdf/standard.pdf

P.K Choudhury ‚ÄúFrontiers in optical technology‚ÄĚ Nova publishers, 2002 pp2-3 accessed

         on28th october2008 from,

         http://books.google.com

Scomist personal computers ¬†‚ÄúOptical storage technology‚ÄĚ2002pp1&2 accessed

         on28th october2008 from

          http://www.scotsmist.co.uk/optical.html

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