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Trying Out Indoor Navigation Using Inertial Sensing

IEEE Spectrum tests a sensor-laden smartphone that maps where GPS can’t

3 min read
Our reporter finds her way around the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Taipei, using a prototype smartphone that can navigate without GPS.
Photo: Bill Chen

21 November 2012—At no point did the kung-fu masters in Ang Lee’s film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon need a navigation system to locate targets. As a kung-fu film fan with a bad sense of direction, however, I was happy to have an experimental new indoor navigation system guide me through the exhibition “King Hu: The Renaissance Man,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei last August. ( Hu’s 1971 film, A Touch of Zen, was one of the inspirations for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.)

As anyone who’s ever been lost in a multistory shopping center or parking garage knows, GPS doesn’t work indoors. So Internet giants like Google, telecom operators, and smartphone makers are working on indoor navigation.

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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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