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University co-presents 2019 Light and Sound Interactive Conference

June 11, 2019
Spencer Klubben shows off Corning Incorporated's versalume product during the LSI conference.Attendees at this year's Light and Sound Interactive (LSI) Conference can try products and see demos during interactive sessions. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The world of innovation and technology will have its eyes on Rochester during the 2019 Light and Sound Interactive (LSI) Conference June 25–27. In its second year, LSI is a collaborative experience showcasing the region’s areas of expertise in innovation, imaging, and optics. More than 200 companies in the Rochester area are involved in light, sound, and interactive technologies.

LSI is presented by the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Empire State Development, and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations.

2019 LSI Conference details

This year’s LSI Conference will be in downtown Rochester June 25 to 27. The conference’s program tracks are optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI); cinema; music and audio; gaming and interactive media; augmented and virtual reality; and the Department of Defense.

Shining light on Rochester-area industries and research will be guest speakers from Facebook, Microsoft, the Department of Defense, and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, as well as demonstrations from companies including Bose, Harman, and Amazon. Facebook is inviting to the conference key influencers from around the country who will remain in town after the event for a Facebook summit, “Facebook Optics and Display Academic Research Forum.” Aligned with the conference, AIM Photonics is hosting a meeting of members representing several Fortune 500 companies.

Light and Sound Interactive logo with conference dates (June 25-27) and location (Rochester, NY)

The LSI Conference will be held at the Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center and Sibley Square, both on East Main Street. Audio and music events will be held in the Eastman School of Music’s Hatch Recital Hall, and cinema events at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman Museum. Morning and lunchtime keynote speeches will be presented in the Jazz Festival tent at Parcel 5.

The goal of the conference is to attract leading technologists and innovators from national high-tech companies to Rochester for collaboration on the future of light- and sound-based technologies, applications, and emerging industries. The participant list also includes artists and musicians, content creators, entrepreneurs, investors, economic development professionals, government representatives, and enthusiasts.

The LSI Conference will culminate with Luminate NY’s Demo Day on June 27. Luminate NY is the world’s largest startup accelerator program for optics, photonics, and imaging technologies. Headquartered in downtown Rochester and administered by NextCorps—an affiliate of the University of Rochester and the region’s only state- and federally designated business incubator—Luminate features 10 competitors vying for more than $2 million in follow-on funding provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

How to attend

Registration is open now with a general fee of $275 for the full conference; $100 for a student pass; $200 for a faculty pass; $225 for a day pass; or $350 for a demonstrator pass (which includes the full conference). Register and learn more at

Shuttles will connect the conference locations at the Convention Center, Sibley Square, Eastman School of Music, the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman Museum, and the Jazz Festival tent.

Programs and demonstrations

LSI will feature interactive sessions with experts, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders, as well as hands-on, cutting-edge product demonstrations. LSI has opted to focus on collaborative, hands-on experiences versus offering a slate of long panel talks. Participants will spend their afternoons witnessing demonstrations and engaging in one-on-one meetups with intersecting businesses and investors, in dedicated spaces at Sibley Square. LSI management will navigate and schedule these meetups for participants.

Program tracks

  • Augmented and Virtual Reality: Speakers will include leading experts in academia and industry who will examine the challenges and opportunities of integrating future technologies with human optical, visual, auditory, cognitive, and social capabilities. The conference will feature demonstrations of the latest extended reality technology.
  • Games and Interactive Media: The video game industry is becoming bigger than Hollywood, and Rochester has become a Top 5 city for industry education and leading-edge development. Meet the investors and developers driving a new generation of immersive experiences. An e-sports competition will take place at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, June 25 at the Convention Center.
  • Audio and Music: From movies and concert recordings to augmented and virtual reality experiences, scientists, professors, audio engineers, and artists will explore technical advances, theoretical applications, and sonic visualizations.
  • Cinema: A deep dive into the technology that drives the industry, including pre-visualization techniques and special effects plus advanced film scoring—all in the city where George Eastman helped launch the film industry with the invention of motion picture film.
  • Department of Defense: Multiple branches of the armed forces will be participating in the LSI Conference as representatives look for technology to make missions successful and soldiers safe.
  • Optics, Photonics, and Imaging: Rochester is the epicenter of OPI innovation with new optics manufacturing technologies, including sensors for freeform optics, big data applications, and biological, chemical, and physical stimuli.

University of Rochester faculty, alumni among participants

The leader of the Augmented and Virtual Reality Track is David Williams, dean for research in Arts, Sciences & Engineering and director of the University’s Center for Visual Science. Other participants in this track include Michele Rucci, professor of brain and cognitive sciences; Nick Vamivakas, associate professor of quantum optics and quantum physics; Aaron Bauer, senior research engineer with the Institute of Optics; Zhen Bai, assistant professor of computer science; and Jannick Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering and director of the Center for Freeform Optics.

Co-leader of the Audio and Music Track is Mark Bocko ’84, director of the Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences, chair and distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the audio and music engineering program. Also participating in this track are Michael Heilemann ’15, ’18, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Fuat Koro ’97, ’98, ’03 (MBA), a graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Simon Business School, now vice president and head of corporate strategy and innovation at Bose Corporation.

Participants in the Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Track include Williams; Edward White ’77, ’84 (MBA), a graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Simon Business School, currently AIM Photonics associate vice president for the Test, Assembly, and Packaging (TAP) Facility in Rochester; and Benjamin Miller, Dean’s Professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, and Optics.

Richard Rashid ’78, ’80, founder of Microsoft Research who received his master’s and PhD degrees in computer science from the University, and Barry Silverstein ’84, director of Optics and Display Research Facebook Reality Labs and a graduate of the University’s Institute of Optics, are among the keynote speakers.

Two of the companies competing in Luminate 2019 have strong ties to the University of Rochester. Ovitz founder and CEO Felix Kim ’14 is a graduate of the University’s Institute of Optics, as is engineering director Nick Brown ’15. Chief scientist Yoon Geunyoung is a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the University. Ovitz develops individualized vision care, including a custom contact lens, and uses proprietary software algorithms to diagnose abnormal corneas.

VPG Medical CEO and co-founder Jean-Phillippe Couderc is an associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at the University of Rochester Medical Center as is Chief Medical Officer Burr Hall. Guy Arie, head of business development, is an assistant professor of economics and management at the Simon Business School. The company has developed cameras that can be embedded in smart devices to monitor the cardiac activities of its users.

From the LSI Conference’s leadership team and partners

Rob Clark, Provost and Senior Vice President for Research, University of Rochester: “The University of Rochester is delighted to partner with RIT and local and state economic development agencies in supporting the Light and Sound Initiative. LSI is a fantastic showcase for Rochester’s historic and emerging strengths in optics, imaging, and AI, as well as music creation and audio science. LSI celebrates the many exciting avenues for new ideas and new business opportunities that arise from Rochester’s unique environment—one where breakthrough science can spur economic growth and global leadership.”

David Munson, President, Rochester Institute of Technology: “RIT and the Rochester region are becoming a world leader at the nexus of imaging science, interactive gaming, virtual and augmented reality, and film and animation. We are capitalizing on our strengths by harnessing the creativity and innovation of a new generation of entrepreneurs who can bring their ideas, products, and services to the marketplace, and through collaboration with the University of Rochester, industry, government, and community organizations. We are at the forefront of developing some of the most exciting technologies and startups in the world’s fastest-growing industries, and we are educating future world leaders who will continue to shape creativity and innovation for years to come. When our collective institutions collaborate, Rochester wins. But more than that, when communities come together and combine resources to help define a new industry, our country wins.”

Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce: “Rochester Chamber fully supports LSI as a way to showcase the Rochester and Finger Lakes region’s tremendous depth of talent in the audio-visual arts and sciences. It is a perfect way to connect the outstanding companies and organizations here with others across the country. No longer should Rochester be the best-kept secret in New York State. LSI goes a long way in proving that we are among the elite in the industry.”

Howard Zemsky, President, CEO and Commissioner, Empire State Development: “New York State is proud to support the LSI Conference, showcasing the Finger Lakes as a dynamic hub for optics, photonics, and imaging and featuring some of the world’s top researchers and experts who are developing revolutionary technologies across industries and fueling the region’s continued economic growth.”

Matt Hurlbutt, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise: “Rochester has its eyes on the future where companies like Bausch & Lomb, Rochester Precision Optics, and Optimax are leading the way with everything from advanced eye health care to providing NASA with high-precision optics. The LSI Conference will bring together the talent and fully integrated supply chain resources available to help light, sound, and interactive companies grow in the Greater Rochester, New York, region.”

Terry Clas, Executive Director, LSI Conference. “LSI builds upon Rochester’s proud legacy in manufacturing, photography, and optics, and the region today is recognized globally as a leading optics, photonics, and imaging cluster. The LSI Conference captures where we are today as global leaders in many arenas, and this innovation is taking place in the same footprint as Rochester’s business giants who pioneered optics and made magic happen with imaging and light. We are ready to showcase our evolving and innovative technologies.”

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Category: Science & Technology