The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

LCDs' Bright Future

Three separate advances are making TVs lighter and cheaper

4 min read
LCDs' Bright Future

group

Photos, from top: 3M; Corning; Alfred Poor
LIGHT SCREENS: New technology from 3M [top] adds an extra layer to displays but eliminates bulky side-lighting systems. Flexible glass from Corning [center] and Asahi [bottom] lowers manufacturing costs as well as weight.

The LCD is an antique technology by almost any measure. Liquid crystal material was first discovered in Austria in 1888, about 10 years before the invention of the cathode-ray tube. The first liquid crystal displays—in wristwatches—go back to the early 1970s. Today, we can make LCD flat-panel displays with diagonals of 70 inches or more. And yet we've hardly scratched the surface, so to speak, of what the technology can do.

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
Vertical
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
Yellow

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