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Demo Spring 2012: Just for Fun

An electric skateboard and a fantasy politics game aren’t going to change the world, but sometimes it’s enough to just have fun.

1 min read

There’s always something at a startup conference that makes you smile; it’s not going to change the world, but it could be a lot of fun. At Demo Spring 2012, I’ll put two startups in this category, Fantasy Politics and Intuitive Motion.

Fantasy Politics presents political junkies with trading cards of politicians and pundits, lets them form teams, and play against their friends. I’m thinking the timing is great for Fantasy Football players, who can get going on this now and be wrapping it up when the football season kicks off.

Intuitive Motion demo’d the ZBoard, an electric skateboard that responds to shifts in weight much like a Segway does—shift forward and it speeds up, shift back and it brakes. The company, along with its basic $750 model, is planning an LA edition with an increased range, and a San Francisco model for higher powered hill climbs and a stepped up regenerative braking capacity. Unlike the Segway, company founder Ben Forman said, the ZBoard will “fit in the trunk of your Prius.”

Follow me on Twitter @TeklaPerry.


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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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