New Device Lets Plants Talk

Smart sensors let crops text-message growers for more water

3 min read

4 May 2009—Although technology has benefited agriculture in a number of ways, there are some things that growers still do the old-fashioned way. Among them is putting their hands and other measuring devices in the dirt and judging, based on how moist the soil is, whether their crops need water and how much should be added.

But AgriHouse, an agricultural technology firm based in Berthoud, Colo., says it is marketing a new device that can eliminate irrigation guesswork by letting plants call growers via cellular networks to indicate when they need a drink. To be specific, the plants send text messages alerting growers if their water uptake is too little, too much, or just right.

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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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