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A DIY 3-D Viewer for Remote Piloting

Get a pilot’s-eye view from a remote-controlled aircraft

4 min read
A DIY 3-D Viewer for Remote Piloting
Photo: Zalman Joffe

The gaming world may soon get a shake-up with the introduction of the Oculus Rift, a 3-D head-mounted display that promises to be compact, comfortable, and reasonably priced. Reading about the DIY origins of this gadget got me wondering how hard it would be to cobble together something similar. Because I’m not a gamer, though, I didn’t immediately start investigating the possibility. Then I started to wonder whether a 3-D display could enhance a pastime I do enjoy—flying radio-controlled model airplanes outfitted with video cameras so they can be piloted in a mode known as first-person view (FPV).

I soon discovered a company offering this very thing through an Indiegogo campaign. The folks at EMR Laboratories, in Waterloo, Ont., Canada, have come up with a device they call Transporter3D. It can accept two analog video signals and combine them into a single digital output that can be displayed in 3-D on the Oculus Rift. Combined with EMR Laboratories’ stereo video camera, which goes by the much less evocative name 3D Cam FPV, the Transporter3D can provide model-aircraft owners with stereoscopic FPV capabilities.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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