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New IHMA General Secretary Outlines Plans for the Future

27 January 2016

Dr Mark Deakes, Reconnaissance International’s Director of Optical and Authentication Technologies and Editor of Holography News®, was formally appointed to the position of General Secretary of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) in December, following Ian Lancaster’s retirement. Here, he outlines recent progress and future plans for the association.  

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to say how privileged and honoured I am to be now undertaking the General Secretary role and to thank Ian and the IHMA board for their support coming into this role and going forward. It’s a role that has at its heart ‘you’ - the IHMA members and holography industry as a whole.

So what has the IHMA being doing and what is its mission?

Well the IHMA has a rich history, starting from a dozen founding members to now almost 100 members; from mainly western and Japanese membership, to a membership demographic now from every continent except Antarctica.

Over the years the IHMA has been involved with the International Standards Organisation, for example ISO 14298, Project Genesius and is recognised and respected by Interpol, the WCO and other organisations.

2015 has seen a number of developments that include:

  • An updated Hologram Image Register (HIR) that is now all online, making it easier for members to register their holograms, which is now crucial for ISO 14298;
  • An updated website which is currently being rolled out; and
  • A project to collaborate with Chinese government agencies to improve awareness of and respect for intellectual property.

The latter project we hope to report on this year with further updates, in what promises to be an exciting time for the IHMA.

Our immediate plans, meanwhile, are to continue to serve our members and address their evolving needs where we are able, but also to increase the number of members of the IHMA to at least 100. This is to be achieved by undertaking a membership drive to ensure we have captured all the existing and new and emerging holography companies that would benefit from being a member of the IHMA.

But what are these benefits? Well, there are numerous - including, but not limited to, the Hologram Image Register, patent bulletin, tender alerts, discounts on publications (eg. Holography News), public relations,   sales leads, resource links, protection and promotion of the holography industry, demonstrates a commitment to ethical business practices, input into standards, etc.…the list goes on!!

Other areas of focus this year will be:

  • To raise awareness of the ISO 14298 standard that requires the registration of a hologram on a register (for IHMA members, the use of the HIR is free;
  • To look at how the IHMA can best serve the display holography sector and also other emerging sectors;
  • To continue the good work in China with government agencies;
  • To increase the use of the new rolled-out IHMA website, together with public relations and where appropriate social media to promote the holographic industry.

Predictions for the future

My own predictions for the future of the industry for this year are that the industry in the security document sector will continue to modestly grow, innovate and evolve. We have seen the continued vote of confidence in the use of holograms as integrated security devices on both tax stamps, where they can be combined with codes, and on banknotes, latterly on the new euro note series, Canadian notes, New Zealand series, Georgia banknotes and the new Israel 200 Shekel (the latter incorporating the first volume hologram on a banknote).

The continuation of these holographic features and the supply chains to produce them will obviously continue for some years to come, with I suspect incremental innovations in hologram features combined with design changes and upgrades.

Similarly, in ID we have seen a further vote in confidence in holography with the launch of the new UK passport retaining the holographic laminate.

In other areas such as packaging, new innovations as observed at The Holography Conference in Shanghai with the launch of a new innovative Fresnel lens environmentally-friendly packaging transfer foil and laminate by Wood and Associates are products that could well begin to take off.

In terms of the display hologram sector, whilst it is a lot smaller in sales terms compared to surface relief holograms, there have been some significant strides made in materials development and technology over the last couple of years. Perhaps 2016 will be the year it will come to fruition and get the recognition it deserves.

Other areas that utilise holographic optical effects (HOEs), have enormous potential, particularly now with the Microsoft’s HoloLens, Google Glass, head up displays and the innovations that are sure to emerge from the company Magic Leap. This is an area that is sure to grow in the future with numerous applications.

Lastly, although none of the above can be 100% accurately predicted, there is one prediction that I believe I can make and that is the holographic industry won’t stand still, but will continue to innovate, evolve and find new applications.