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Not content to serve only its customers’ eyes and ears, Japan’s NTT Communications, of Tokyo, has just finished testing an Internet-connected odor-delivery system to be used by retailers and restaurants to attract customers. In the test, a device [right] emitted cocktails of fragrances mixed in the machine according to recipes delivered over the Internet. The scents were intended to pull passersby into a pub in an underground mall in Tokyo. What drives Japanese mall-goers to drink? NTT’s researchers are betting that for men, at least, it’s a peculiar lime aroma—used in combination with a flat-panel display showing frolicking bikini-clad women.

More at /jan08/smelltoo

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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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