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Published: Friday, 9/10/2010

‘Singing Fingers' iPhone app makes sound visible

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

What if you could see a sound? How would the sound of wind chimes look? Would it look different from the sound of your voice or a flute?

These are the types of questions someone might ponder after bumping his head on a low branch, or perhaps as a doctoral student at the MIT Media Lab.

Eric Rosenbaum and Jay Silver, students at the MIT lab, had been thinking about the phenomenon of using computers to simulate synesthesia, a condition in which different senses, like sound and sight, are combined. And that's when they had a brainstorm for their iPhone application, Singing Fingers, which allows you to experience synesthesia.

Starting with a blank white screen, you drag your finger slowly while making a sound. As your fingertip moves, it makes a line that is driven by the pitch and loudness of the sound. Loud sounds make fatter lines; higher pitches make different colors. Sing a major scale and you can make a rainbow pattern.

To play your sound back, trace your finger back over the drawing. If you drag your finger quickly, your sounds are played back just as fast, providing a new way to fool around with sound.

The app is free; an iPad version is planned.

If you want to watch Web-enabled video on your television, you can buy a number of gadgets that will hook up directly to your TV set. But most of these offer only a narrow hallway of content and do not allow full access to the Internet or a Web browser.

Now Warpia offers a device that plugs directly into a laptop and lets you stream everything wirelessly from the computer to a television or computer monitor.

There are two models; both allow full sharing of the computer screen.

The main device, a wireless USB audio and video display adapter set, costs $170 and is designed specifically to stream content from a computer directly to a high-definition television. The video quality is crisp and clear, as long as your laptop is within line of sight of the TV module and not too far away. I found that the quality dropped off around 30 feet. Although this version works only on PCs, a Mac version is to be available in the coming months.

Alternately, for those who want to use a computer monitor to watch content, the Easy Dock, which costs $150, comes with a USB adapter set that allows a computer to stream anything wirelessly from a laptop or MacBook to a larger external monitor.

Nikon has announced three Coolpix point-and-shoot cameras: the P7000 for demanding photographers, a midrange S8100 with a 10X zoom, and the sleek touch-screen S80. The $500 P7000 is aimed at those who want DSLR-like control and features. Its 10.1-megapixel sensor has larger photo diodes than most point-and-shooters, enabling it to deliver better low-light images. The camera has a versatile 7.1X zoom with a range of 28 mm to 200 mm and includes a new feature that lets users define favorite focal lengths and use them at the touch of a button.

The $250 Coolpix S8100 employs a new backside-illuminated CMOS sensor to deliver fast shooting speeds (10 frames per second) and the ability to capture full 1,080p video. The S8100 also has a 10X optical zoom with a range of 30 to 300 mm.

The “Ashton camera,” as retailers call the $330 Coolpix S80, is back with a sleeker design. In fact, Nikon says it is the world's smallest camera with a 5X optical zoom. Its touch-screen interface is accessed via a vivid, high-resolution 3.5-inch OLED screen, and Nikon has added a “smart” portrait system designed to snap more flattering portraits.

Moviegoers have been trained to treat 3-D glasses as disposable products. When the movie is over, you are supposed to deposit the glasses into the bins outside the theaters.

While the glasses are usually cleaned and recycled, would consumers be more likely to see a 3-D film if the glasses fit more like their own and less like a pair you would pick up in a Halloween costume store?

Starting in January, Marchon3D will offer a wide range of sunglasses that incorporate the circular polarizing technology used in 3-D movie theaters that feature the RealDsystem — and that is most 3-D screens in the United States. (Most current 3-D telev

The company will sell glasses in movie theaters for about $35. While the glasses will block 100 percent of most ultraviolet light, they are not dark and do not darken in the sun.



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