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Changing Photographic Landscape

Top consumer electronics companies put the squeeze on traditional camera makers

3 min read

The once orderly camera business is undergoing a sea change, as digital photography consolidates a near-total victory. Altogether, Japan delivered about 73 million digital units in 2006, accounting for about three-quarters of global sales, but shipped just over a million film cameras. Though companies like Canon continue to sell film cameras, they are no longer developing new ones, and it seems only a matter of time until they drop the business.

Meanwhile, as if the picture were not already worrisome enough for those Japanese camera makers that have dominated the market for decades, their turf is being invaded by hungry consumer electronics companies, including Casio Computer, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Samsung Electronics, Sanyo Electric, and Sony. These and others are using semiconductor and miniaturization skills to bring innovative designs and new features to their cameras, such as the antishake systems and automated zoom lenses now found on even the smallest cameras.

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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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