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Simplifying the Picturephone

SeePort opens a Virtual Window at DemoFall 2010.

1 min read
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/v/S5u809rRuWM?fs=1&hl=en_US expand=1]

I’m a big fan of simple, as long as simple does one useful thing well, and doesn’t cost too much. SeePort’s Virtual Windows, announced at DemoFall 2010, may meet those criteria (the price hasn’t been announced yet, that’s coming, I’m told, at the January Consumer Electronics Show, but is likely to be under $150).

The concept for Virtual Windows is indeed simple. It looks like an electronic picture frame, but it contains a camera and microphone.  You pair your window with someone else’s for instant communication. Set this electronic picture frame on a counter looking out into the room—your kitchen, for example. Set up another in your elderly parent’s home, perhaps, or in your child’s college dorm room (OK, bad example, no college student would want their parents to be able to stalk them quite so closely.)

You can leave it on; grandma can say hi to your kids when they’re passing by on their way back from the refrigerator. Or you can connect by tapping the touch screen. Or you can make it simple on one end, but tap into the “window” on the other through an iPhone.  In the video above, company founder Lauren Elliot tells me why he thinks this is going to be a great product.

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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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