Consumer Electronics Winners and Losers

Tablets were the brightest spot in sales for the U.S. 2012 holiday season

1 min read
Infographic: Carl De Torres
Infographic: Carl De Torres

Before the 2012 make-or-break U.S. holiday buying season (which this year ran from 23 November to 24 December), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimated that spending on consumer electronics would increase a few percentage points. Unfortunately for manufacturers and retailers, an analysis released in January by the CEA showed that actual spending was flat. But that overall figure conceals that some categories are booming while others are in decline.

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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
Blue

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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