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The End of the Smartphone?

It’s time to start thinking about what’s next

2 min read
The End of the Smartphone?
Illustration: Greg Mably

Recently I was listening to a talk—ostensibly about the future—in which the smartphone was pictured as an evolutionary end point that would last indefinitely. I thought, Nothing is forever, and forever comes very quickly in technology. I started to worry about what would come after the smartphone, and what the end of the smartphone’s dominance would mean to the electronics industry.

The smartphone has been an incredible success, both in technological and business terms. I often think of it as the pinnacle of engineering brilliance. There is an entire ecosystem of parts, systems, software, even design philosophy, that has built up around it. Anything that can be made from smartphone technology can be made quickly, easily, and inexpensively. It has been the most successful electronics product ever.

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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
Blue

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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