Calm in Your Palm

Biofeedback device promises to reduce stress

4 min read

Standing in front of a room of over a hundred software developers at the height of the dot-com boom, Michael Wood suffered a paralyzing panic attack. Wood had reached the end of his tether after months of grinding work and regular commutes between New York City and London. He quit his job and devoted himself to understanding--and beating--stress.

The result is a sleek, solid, handheld biofeedback device called the StressEraser, built by New York City­based Helicor Inc., which Wood founded with his business partner, Adam Forbes. Essentially, the StressEraser is an aid for deep breathing exercises, which are commonly prescribed to alleviate stress. The device tells you just when to inhale and when to stop. It does this by divining the state of your nervous system by some clever analysis of your heart rate--and thus indicating when you should take those deep, relaxing breaths.

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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
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

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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