The functional analysis of the rice genome has entered into a high-throughput stage, and a project named RICE2020 has been proposed to determine the function of every gene in the rice genome by the year 2020. However, as compared with the robustness of genetic techniques, the evaluation of rice phenotypic traits is still performed manually, and the process is subjective, inefficient, destructive and error-prone. To overcome these limitations and help rice phenomics more closely parallel rice genomics, reliable, automatic, multifunctional, and high-throughput phenotyping platforms should be developed. In this article, we discuss the key plant phenotyping technologies, particularly photonics-based technologies, and then introduce their current applications in rice (wheat or barley) phenomics. We also note the major challenges in rice phenomics and are confident that these reliable high-throughput phenotyping tools will give plant scientists new perspectives on the information encoded in the rice genome.