You could call it The Standard That Never Was. China's fledgling encryption standard for wireless local-area networking was delivered a setback and perhaps even a mortal blow on 21 April, when the People's Republic agreed to indefinitely postpone a requirement that all Wi-Fi chips sold in China adhere to the homegrown standard. The agreement was reached in a meeting between the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade during an official visit by Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi to Washington, D.C.

Besides settling a contentious issue that had prompted diplomatic intervention by top Bush administration officials, the Wi-Fi agreement has defused trade tensions over electronics that have been growing in the past few months. U.S. chip makers hailed the decision. In exchange for indefinitely postponing the deadline for using its Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure, or WAPI, standard and for pledging to crack down on intellectual property violations, China got the United States to agree that it will ease restrictions on the export of some high-technology U.S. products to China.

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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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