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Nobel Goes to Boyle and Smith for CCD Camera Chip

IEEE Fellows Willard Boyle and George Smith recognized for starting the digital-imaging revolution

4 min read

Corrected 8 October 2009.

7 October 2009—Willard Boyle and George Smith, formerly of Bell Telephone Laboratories, in Murray Hill, N.J., will share half of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit-the CCD," the basis for digital imagery in everything from pocket cameras to the Hubble Space Telescope. (The "imaging" part of the citation is in dispute, as the first imaging CCD was developed by IEEE Fellow Michael F. Tompsett, a colleague of Boyle and Smith.) In announcing the awards, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences called Boyle and Smith “masters of light” and said that, with fellow winner and optical-fiber pioneer Charles Kuen Kao, they “helped to shape the foundations of today’s networked societies.”

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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
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

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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