The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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iCandy: Imitation of Life

Robots run, swim, act, and fight like us

1 min read

Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster has led to heightened interest in detecting the presence of radiation. To that end, engineers at NTT DoCoMo have developed a smartphone case called the Sensor Jacket, which turns the handset into a mini Geiger counter. The company unveiled the device at the CEATEC Japan 2011 electronics show but have yet to set a price or date for its commercial introduction.

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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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