The optical link is novel indeed. Having worked with magnetic encoders in a noisy environment, I would have loved this as an alternative. Light is not electrically sensitive. Also, removing electronics from the business end of the setup is sure to keep noise to a minimum.
However, the price surely reflects the innovation. A setup like this geared towards the home machinist or small business would certainly clean up.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.