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Build the Ultimate Digital Picture Frame

Add gesture control to an HDTV to browse through a museum’s worth of art

4 min read
Build the Ultimate Digital Picture Frame
Photo: W. Wayt Gibbs; Artwork: Sylvia Gibbs

Video: W. Wayt Gibbs

Some 20 years ago, Bill Gates was the king of computing, and not above boasting about his new high-tech house. In his book The Road Ahead he described how large monitors in the house would display great works of art, changing every day. These digital art frames could even react as you walked past, no button pushing required. Now that, I remember thinking, is something I would like.

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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
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Photo: Rami Shlush
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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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