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Clean Living

I'm not yet Jane Jetson, with a robotic maid that does all my cleaning, but the Mint robot is a great first step

4 min read
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My pet peeve about my house? The white kitchen floor. It’ll be the first thing to go if we ever remodel, but in the meantime it needs to be cleaned constantly. Unfortunately, it typically gets cleaned once a week; the other six days it looks horrible. So I jumped at the chance to check out the US $250 Mint floor-cleaning robot.

Mint, from Evolution Robotics, isn’t the first floor-washing robot—Scooba, a sibling of the popular Roomba vacuum robot, also mops floors. But there’s a lot of prep to running a Scooba—pick up the room, fill the tank beforehand, empty and clean the tank after, hope it doesn’t run onto rugs or get the floor too wet (a problem for my wood floors elsewhere in the house, which also don’t get cleaned often enough). That’s a lot of work to save some work.

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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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