Eyeglasses On the Cheap

Graduate student inventor sets his sights on correcting the world's vision problems with tabletop lens molding

4 min read

For an astonishingly large number of people in poor countries, uncorrected vision prevents them from doing things some of us take for granted, like reading street signs or comparing ads to decide which market has the best prices.

According to the World Health Organization, as many as a billion people need vision correction but will never get it. Eyeglasses are scarce in developing nations because they cost too much for the average person--sometimes more than the average monthly income--and there are few people qualified to diagnose eye problems and then provide the proper corrective lenses. But now, something is being done about the world's vision problems.

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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
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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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