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A Fuel-Economy Gauge for the Rest of Us

Most cars--even older, cheaper ones--control their fuel electronically. Here's how to tap into that signal

3 min read

The price of gasoline is down from its stratospheric highs of last July, but there are still plenty of reasons to conserve fuel and plenty of ways to do so. Drivers can make changes in their cars and better yet, in themselves; unfortunately, the human element isn’t easy to tweak. That’s partly because we lack detailed real-time data about which driving behaviors are wasteful.

The information is easy to come by if you pay the price. A fuel-use monitor that plugs into the vehicle’s OBD-II jack—the onboard diagnostic interface that mechanics use to diagnose problems—will set you back US $160 (for the ScanGauge II, for example) to about $280 (for the PLX Kiwi). That’s assuming you have an OBDâ¿¿II port—cars made before 1996 typically don’t.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
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Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford
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Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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