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02-03-2010, 09:58 PM   #1
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Eyes, Brains, Sensors, and Research

Important research in eyesight may lead to new sensors in the future.

HHMI News: Why Your Eyes Are Better Than a Digital Camera

02-03-2010, 10:11 PM   #2
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Back in the 70's,some people in the recording industry decided to revolutionize
stereo sound.I think it was called bianural recording,anyway, theory was,if you took
a head from something like a crash test dummy,stuck a mike in each ear,and
placed it at whatever venue to be recorded,it would be just like you were there.
Sure hope this works out better
02-03-2010, 10:46 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BillM Quote
Back in the 70's,some people in the recording industry decided to revolutionize
stereo sound.I think it was called bianural recording,anyway, theory was,if you took
a head from something like a crash test dummy,stuck a mike in each ear,and
placed it at whatever venue to be recorded,it would be just like you were there.
Sure hope this works out better
that works if you listen with heaphones later an outfit called Headroom designed headphone amps that fed part of each channel into the other, just as each ear hears part of the same sound, only slightly out of phase, its how we locate sounds, anyway, these amps make listening with headphones more like listening to stereo speakers; also reduces "listener fatigue."

interesting article. try googling my username "rhodopsin"

future high-dynamic-range sensors may be miniature chemical factories...
02-04-2010, 01:50 AM   #4
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Articles like these do tend to be annoying with their presumption that a few thousand years of mankind can out perform several hundred million years of nature. Of course the eye is better than a few chunks of silicon wired up to a battery, why should anyone think otherwise? I once attended a talk about trilobites and was gobsmacked to learn just how sophisticated their vision was. The lecture was a long time ago now but if I remember correctly they could focus as easily on their next meal right in front of them as they could the stars above, did they use the stars for navigation? Why should we be so arrogant as to think that we were to first to think of it?

Having said that it must be admitted that using digital image capture as a reference by which we may better come to understand just how the brain and optical system works is not to be discouraged, lets just keep things in perspective though.


Last edited by justinr; 02-04-2010 at 02:22 AM.
02-04-2010, 11:17 PM   #5
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Its good to dream. Maybe new sensors tomorrow, restoring sight to the blind
next week.
I'm happy that I was close enough in the spelling of the B word that someone picked
up on it. Recall reading abstract in engineering journal many years ago,had no ideal
it was commerically viable.
To dream a little further,perhaps one day, all one will need to upgrade pentax
ZX-1000 FF DSLR is an aerosol can.
Hey justin, my dad use to take my brother and I hunting for these things in
limestone deposits along Mississippi river,had this thing 45 years and it is
still "dumb as box of rocks",have not been able to teach it one trick in all
those years.
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02-05-2010, 02:57 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BillM Quote
Back in the 70's,some people in the recording industry decided to revolutionize
stereo sound.I think it was called bianural recording,anyway, theory was,if you took
a head from something like a crash test dummy,stuck a mike in each ear,and
placed it at whatever venue to be recorded,it would be just like you were there.
Sure hope this works out better
Been near-perfected in the computer gaming industry for years. Companies like the (both now sadly non-existent, thanks to a bigger company called Creative) Sensaura and Aureal had developed damned good head-related transform function sound API for simulating surround sound in computer games.

Wavemaps. Man, do I miss wavemaps. Sorry, got nostalgic for a bit.

It works pretty damn well. The idea behind it is those bumps on your ear - pinnae, they're called - shape and attentuate sound depending on the direction it's coming from. Your brain learns to recognise what a noise coming from, say, on the ground behind you sounds like, and then interprets that noise into information that says to you: "Noise is behind you, on the ground."

For example, sound from behind you will have slightly less treble, as treble doesn't travel through solids (like the cartilage in your ear) very well. And it's not just the ears that do it - sound's picked up from all over your head. Bone conduction transmits a lot of it, too. From your jaw to the top of your noggin, all are receptive to sound.

Of course, sound that's bounced into your ear from above you has been reflected and attenuated by your pinnae and skull differently than if it had come below you. Again, your brain knows how to tell the difference.

Now, with two points of reference - a left ear and a right ear - we can accurately pick out a sound's position on a one dimensional plane. Stereo sound.

If it's recorded on a dummy head, through microphones with faux-pinnae on them, like ears, then we get a fairly generalised pseudo-3D recording...but playable through headphones or ordinary stereo speakers.

Yes, of course, my head shape's different to yours, and I can bleeding well guarantee my ears are a different shape. But even so, the similarities far, far outweigh the differences, and the end result is very, very accurate.

Here's a sample of a proprietary 3DPA (3D Positional Audio) recording (QSound.) Listen through headphones, if you can.

[yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUDTlvagjJA[/yt]

Of course, it's no substitution for the real thing, but few things are. Still, though, it sounds very good. Pretty much every computer soundcard has something similar. Microsoft's DirectX has had a version like it for ages, I think the OpenAL standard has it. There's also Miles, and the biggest one, Creative's EAX, which started out mostly as a reverb library (reverb dictates the size and type of the virtual room you're in,) and in the beginning was pretty unimpressive.

The two other formats I've mentioned that are no longer around - Sensaura and Aureal A3D - suffered the same fate. Creative, a company with a much worse 3DPA system but with more cash, just sued the crap out of both of them. Creative lost the lawsuits, but neither of the two defending companies could afford to pay the legal fees, and both were bought out by Creative, who promptly nicked all their technology and started a near-monopoly of the soundcard market.

I'm assuming you're not a gamer, but it's good enough for a geek like me, playing 3D first- or third-person games. Flight simmers love it. It's very accurate for most purposes, and I actually prefer it to "proper" multi-speaker surround sound, which is indeed more accurate for position...provided your room and speakers are working harmoniously, and you've got the right type of covering on your walls, and the right carpet, and the seats are in the right position...

For whatever reason, it's yet to be embraced by the movie industry. I think it's because there's more money to be had in flogging expensive surround sound setups, rather than just having it recorded in 3D. With music, of course, clarity is king, and anything that attenuates certain frequencies is a very bad thing. Plus, I'm sure the audio engineers wouldn't like to have to worry about five more channels instead of just left and right, either.

One real-world application is in aircraft, especially fighter aircraft - I think the F-16 and up use 3DPA sound to more quickly and efficiently cue in threats to the pilot.

When the computer in the aircraft gives a warning, "Bandit, four o'clock high," a pilot might waste precious milliseconds interpreting that cue as to where to look. When the warning's processed through a 3DPA algorithm, and the sound made to seem like it's coming from above the pilot's head, just behind his right should, then the desire to turn and look is instinctual and a lot faster.

Course, there's other stuff you can do with binaural recordings, like pseudo-bass boosts.

(Sorry for the lengthy off-topic rant, but I find this stuff fascinating.)
02-05-2010, 10:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BillM Quote
Its good to dream. Maybe new sensors tomorrow, restoring sight to the blind
next week.
I'm happy that I was close enough in the spelling of the B word that someone picked
up on it. Recall reading abstract in engineering journal many years ago,had no ideal
it was commerically viable.
To dream a little further,perhaps one day, all one will need to upgrade pentax
ZX-1000 FF DSLR is an aerosol can.
Hey justin, my dad use to take my brother and I hunting for these things in
limestone deposits along Mississippi river,had this thing 45 years and it is
still "dumb as box of rocks",have not been able to teach it one trick in all
those years.
You're not feeding it right and they can be grumpy little buggers if not regularly pampered. Have you changed its litter recently?
02-05-2010, 11:45 AM   #8
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@lithos -- thanks for the post!

02-05-2010, 01:11 PM   #9
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Sensors&Research

Its amazing how sight and sound impacts an individual. I Remember seeing the movie
"The Killing Fields" and the impact of that scene where jet flies from left to right,out of sight,
but followed in the sound track,had quite an effect on me, went out and bought
all kinds of surround sound stuff. With density of gates per square unit of surface area
on silicone pretty much "at the wall", will be interesting to see what avenues are pursued
in this regard to research.
In 1996 I rented a schweizer 1-26 for 4 hours, it was fitted out with a high performance flight kit
which include a audible variometer(rate of climb) in marginal lift it was great, instead of
focusing on horizon or insturment for visual cue regarding lift,could listen to high/low
pitch of tone to indicate,can only imagine military applications,but can relate to what your saying.
Yes Justin, your probably right about litter box, as late as I stayed up last night and
the way my wife is looking at me this morning,probably am,stepping in something

Last edited by BillM; 02-05-2010 at 04:05 PM.
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