How to Turn Your iPhone Into a Water Leak Detector

Pair the Nanospark with an iPhone to create a smart microcontroller

4 min read
How to Turn Your iPhone Into a Water Leak Detector
Photo: Sarah Lewin

animated gif showing DIY water leak detectorPhotos: Sarah Lewin

Recently, I was awakened by a crash—my blinds had fallen off my apartment’s bedroom windows. Then, later, I saw that water was dripping from the holes left behind in the frame. I replaced the blinds with curtains, and the drip continued, on an annoyingly intermittent schedule, over the days that followed.

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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
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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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.

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