DIY Muscle-Memory Programmer

This vibrating glove teaches fingers to touch-type

4 min read
DIY Muscle-Memory Programmer
The author’s son during a training session. Words are flashed on the laptop’s screen while the fingers needed to correctly type each letter are vibrated in turn.
Photo: David Schneider

For IEEE Spectrum’s special issue this past June, my colleague Ariel Bleicher visited Tad Starner’s lab at Georgia Tech and tried out an intriguing kind of wearable technology: a computerized glove equipped with five vibration motors, one perched atop each finger. Wearing the glove for a couple of hours while attending to other tasks, she acquired sufficient “muscle memory” to play 61 notes of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” with hardly any effort.


Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

Keep Reading ↓Show less