News Article | May 11, 2017
The MP3 Is Officially Dead, According To Its Creators "The death of the MP3 was announced in a conference room in Erlangen, Germany, in the spring of 1995." So opens Stephen Witt's How Music Got Free, an investigation into the forced digitization and subsequent decimation of the music business, from which it has only very recently started to recover. That ironic conference room eulogy actually took place just before the compression algorithm caught on (don't worry, we'll explain in a bit). Soon, the MP3 not only upended the recording industry but, thanks to the iPod, also contributed to Apple's late-'90s transformation into one of the most successful companies in history. (On Tuesday, the tech giant passed $800 billion in market capitalization, the first U.S. company to do so.) But now, 22 years later, the MP3 truly is dead, according to the people who invented it. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a division of the state-funded German research institution that bankrolled the MP3's development in the late '80s, recently announced that its "licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated." Bernhard Grill, director of that Fraunhofer division and one of the principals in the development of the MP3, told NPR over email that another audio format, AAC — or "Advanced Audio Coding," which his organization also helped create — is now the "de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones." He said AAC is "more efficient than MP3 and offers a lot more functionality." As Witt illustrates throughout his excellent opening chapters, the MP3, before upending the musical world as we knew it, almost died in the research lab. The team of engineers that invented the format was attempting to make it possible to send audio over telephone lines, which could only transmit small amounts of data. Fraunhofer — in competing for the legitimacy it needed to persuade tech companies to actually use MP3s, and so actually make money — hit numerous speed bumps. It was repeatedly beleaguered by clever corporate sabotage and later by piracy. Other failures hinged on the need for the world to catch up with the technology's possibilities: Along the way, one computer engineer on the team had a patent for a music streaming service denied by the German government because it was technologically absurd at the time. Another innovation the team failed to leverage? The portable MP3 player. In early 1995, the format was on life support, with one licensing deal being the use of the technology by hockey arenas across the U.S. (That spring meeting in which the MP3 was declared dead came months later, after another failed pitch that denied it being standardized and widely adopted.) A little later, Fraunhofer began giving away the software that consumers needed to turn compact discs into MP3s at home. The rest is recent history. So is it the end of an era? We may still use MP3s, but when the people who spent the better part of a decade creating it say the jig is up, we should probably start paying attention. AAC is indeed much better — it's the default setting for bringing CDs into iTunes now — and other formats are even better than it, though they also take up mountains of space on our hard drives. And it's not just that more efficient and complete ways of storing music have been developed. There was a deeper problem. The engineers who developed the MP3 were working with incomplete information about how our brains process sonic information, and so the MP3 itself was working on false assumptions about how holistically we hear. As psychoacoustic research has evolved, so has the technology that we use to listen. New audio formats and products, with richer information and that better address mobile music streaming, are arriving. Deezer, a music streaming company relatively popular in its native France, launched in the U.S. offering "high-resolution" streaming, for double the price of a Spotify account. Tidal did the same. Neil Young tried his hand with the hotly tipped Pono. While all three are not exactly taking over the world — Pono, in fact, is officially dead, rebranded "Xstream" — the record business has put its stamp of approval on the idea, at least. "Master Quality Authenticated" is a promising new technology that uses a type of audio origami to spare cellular data when necessary and to "bloom" in quality when it's not — though it has drawn pointed criticism for being a closed loop that allows for recording industry cash-ins. It wouldn't be the first time. The formats that convey art and media to us also delineate that media; vinyl records require a session-interrupting flip, which The Beatles brilliantly exploited by creating an infinite loop of gibberish at the end of Sgt. Pepper's second side. The VHS tape in both image and sound was as soft and fuzzy as a worn teddy bear, while new high-definition televisions render images perhaps too robotically, tracking movement like T-1000. The MP3, as mentioned, enabled millions or billions of song listens, just with incorrect biological assumptions. The lesson seems to be, simply, that our media will always be as exactly imperfect as we are.
News Article | May 13, 2017
MP3 players had once been the de facto audiophile gadget, the thing you needed to have if you wanted on-the-go music sessions. Apple, in particular, has had a stake in the MP3 market for many years thanks to its continued refresh of the iPod line. Yet the most recent model, the sixth-generation iPod touch, was released as far back as 2015. That's because in recent times, MP3 players have lost their necessity. With smartphones able to play and, more importantly, stream music, the need for standalone MP3 devices has waned significantly. But beyond the devices, what about the format itself? How has the MP3 audio format stacked up against other, far more efficient audio formats that have surfaced over the years? Not well, it seems, because the MP3 has now died, according directly to the people who invented it. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is part of the German research institution that funded MP3 development in the late 80s, announced late last month that its licensing for MP3-related patents has ended. Another audio format called Advanced Audio Coding, or AAC, is now the "de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones." Bernhard Grill, who was involved in MP3 development said that AAC offers a lot more functionality than MP3. Grill might be absolutely spot-on. Now, AAC is the default audio format when ripping music from CD into iTunes. But more than the quality of compression and file size, the MP3 might actually deserve to die, simply because the engineers who created it were working only upon assumptions on how humans processed sonic information, according to a report by NPR. In short, MP3 might not have been the best way to hear music after all. But that aside, let's take a look at a brief history of the MP3. How it was invented, how it spread globally, and how it eventually died. Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, a German company, invented and developed MP3, and has licensed patents to the compression technology until its recent demise. The inventors listed in the patent were Bernhard Grill, Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, Thomas Sporer, Bernd Kurten, and Ernst Eberlein. • 1987 - The Fraunhofer Institut in Germany began researching high-quality low bit-rate audio coding. It was called the EUREKA project EU147, Digital Audio Broadcasting. • January 1988 - The Moving Picture Experts Group, or MPEG, was established. • 1992 - Dieter Seitzer, who helped with the Fraunhofer with its research, integrated his audio coding with MPEG-1. • 1994 - The MPEG-2 standard was developed and then published a year later. • Nov. 26, 1996 - The U.S. patent for MP3 was issued. • September 1998 - Fraunhofer began enforcing patent rights. Whoever used the MP3 audio coding paid a licensing fee to Fraunhofer. • February 1999 - SubPop, a recording company, distributed music under the MP3 format, the first such company to do so. • 1999 - The first portable MP3 players appear. No matter how you look at it, the demise of the MP3 format is unfortunate, yet expected. This way, other developers can focus on better audio compression formats such as AAC, and bring the level of audio quality to the next level. If anything, MP3's demise is much-needed, if only to encourage audio engineers to begin exploring the next audio standard. What do you think of MP3's history? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below! © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | May 15, 2017
Most streaming services today utilize the highly efficient AAC file format for better music playback. This essentially means that not a lot of people are reliant on the MP3 format anymore. Keeping this in mind, The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which created the format, has decided to stop licensing some MP3 related patents, essentially marking its demise. The folks at the Fraunhofer Institute claim that AAC is the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones.” Keeping this in mind, the move is understandable. But what is the future of music streaming and playback? As most of us are aware, it’s AAC. Although it has been around for almost 20 years, it was always considered to be an alternative to MP3. AAC or Advanced Audio Coding is the evolution of conventional audio file formats. It can achieve better sound quality compared to MP3 with almost the same bitrate, making it a highly popular option among streaming services today. Naturally, it was designed to be the successor of MP3. With the file format widely accepted by almost every mobile manufacturer today, the use of MP3 is pretty much redundant. Almost every major company has already embraced AAC, including YouTube. Of course not. Just because the Fraunhofer Institute will stop licensing MP3 related patents to companies, doesn’t mean MP3 will cease to exist right away. It will be a slow transition, especially in some parts of the world where MP3 files are still prominent. But the idea is to eventually phase out MP3 altogether in favor of AAC. MP3 files have been a large part of our lives. However, it wasn’t without its shortcomings. The file format was responsible for widespread digital piracy back in the 90s, which hit the music industry pretty badly. Interestingly, when the iPod was unveiled several years ago, Apple offered the AAC format as an option for all music. So it seems like manufacturers always had an inkling about where MP3 was headed.
News Article | May 15, 2017
While there are probably at least a dozen different formats when it comes to audio, MP3 is the most popular due to its size and also the support it has from various media players and software. However it seems that all good things must come to an end, and it looks like the creators of the format have announced that they are terminating licensing for certain MP3-related patents.The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits made the announcement on its website which to sum it up basically states that they will no longer be supporting the format. This is because they believe that as popular as the format currently is, there are better ways to store music out there today, and presumably with the retirement it should help push those formats forward.The institute writes, Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPE Your MP3s are going to be just fine The company that holds the licensing to the MP3 has said they won't renew their hold on the file. But nothing will happen to your music library. Mon 15 May 17 from The Washington Post MP3s Didnt Just Die, Corporate Claims to the Contrary Notwithstanding Reports of MP3's death as a standard have been greatly exaggerated--or, perhaps, "tied to the wrong medium" would be a better way of phrasing the misconception. The post MP3s Didn’t Just ... The Creators Of The MP3 Are Officially Retiring The Format While there are probably at least a dozen different formats when it comes to audio, MP3 is the most popular due to its size and also the support it has from various media players and software. ...
News Article | March 24, 2016
In aerospace, automation and automotive technologies, smart electronic computer systems have to meet a number of security and real-time requirements. In case of critical incidents, for instance, the software’s response time has to be very short. Programming of the corresponding applications is time- and cost-consuming. Partners of industry and research are now developing a tool chain for efficient, standardized, and real-time-capable programming under the EU consortium ARGO that is coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Development is based on the open source software Scilab. More and more safety-critical embedded electronic solutions are based on rapid, energy-efficient multicore processors. “Two of the most important requirements of future applications are an increased performance in real time and further reduction of costs without adversely affecting functional safety,” Professor Jürgen Becker of the Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV) of KIT says, who coordinates ARGO. “For this, multicore processors have to make available the required performance spectrum at minimum energy consumption in an automated and efficiently programmed manner.” Multicore systems are characterized by the accommodation of several processor cores on one chip. The cores work in parallel and, hence, reach a higher speed and performance. Programming of such heterogeneous multicore processors is very complex. Moreover, the programs have to be tailored precisely to the target hardware and to fulfill the additional real-time requirements. The ARGO EU research project, named after the very quick vessel in Greek mythology, is aimed at significantly facilitating programming by automatic parallelization of model-based applications and code generation. So far, a programmer had to adapt his code, i.e. the instructions for the computer, to the hardware architecture, which is associated with a high expenditure and prevents the code from being transferred to other architectures. “Under ARGO, a new standardizable tool chain for programmers is being developed. Even without precise knowledge of the complex parallel processor hardware, the programmers can control the process of automatic parallelization in accordance with the requirements. This results in a significant improvement of performance and a reduction of costs,” Becker says. In the future, the ARGO tool chain can be used to manage the complexity of parallelization and adaptation to the target hardware in a largely automated manner with a small expenditure. Under the project, real-time-critical applications in the areas of real-time flight dynamics simulation and real-time image processing are studied and evaluated by way of example. Eight project partners of science and industry cooperate under the project: Apart from KIT, the University of Rennes (France), the Technological Educational Institute of Western Greece, the German Aerospace Center, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS (Germany) as well as Recore Systems B.V. (the Netherlands), Scilab Enterprises (France), and AbsInt Angewandte Informatik GmbH (Germany) are involved in ARGO. “ARGO — WCET-aware Parallelization of Model-based Applications for Heterogeneous Parallel Systems” will be funded by the EU with EUR 3.9 million in the next three years. The project is coordinated by Professor Jürgen Becker, Head of the Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV) of KIT.
News Article | March 1, 2017
"The cotton towels are running out in washroom 17 on the third floor, in washroom 21 on the fourth floor the soap is almost empty, and in 26 there is almost no toilet paper left."Armed with this kind of information in advance, cleaning staff will be able to plan their rounds far more effectively in the future. No small thing, given that washrooms are among the highest-maintenance rooms in buildings. As well as having to be cleaned, their soap, hand-towels and toilet paper have to be replenished regularly. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has now designed a highly efficient solution to this problem. Together with the full-service provider CWS-boco International GmbH, Fraunhofer IIS has created the "CWS Washroom Information Service" system, which significantly reduces washroom maintenance requirements. In charge of the project is Prof. Thomas Wieland, head of the Fraunhofer Application Center for Wireless Sensor Systems in Coburg. In addition to the sensor technology, the Fraunhofer scientists also contribute a wireless system for transmitting the data. CWS-boco is responsible for the design of the various container and dispenser systems. The basis of the "CWS Washroom Information Service" (WIS) are the sensors. They are battery powered and monitor the fill levels of soap dispensers, cotton towel rolls and toilet paper. The measurement method employed depends on the task. For instance, in the case of the soap dispenser, an optical sensor keeps an eye on the fill level, and the sensor module gathers the data from the meter in the soap dispenser that records every portion dispensed. Optical systems are also used for toilet paper, while a portion meter monitors the usage of the cotton towel dispenser. The data collected by these means is then sent through a complex wireless transmission system. First, the dispenser information is transmitted to the nearest "Washroom Control Unit" (WCU) via energy-saving Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy). Each WCU is a collection point and communication node. They are distributed around the entire building and networked with each other. This is where the s-net wireless technology developed by Fraunhofer IIS comes into play, by enabling the wireless network to configure itself. Each WCU in the network decides autonomously what device it sends the data to. "If a given module is out of order or cannot be reached for other reasons, the WCU sends its data to another module," Fraunhofer expert Wieland explains. This means the wireless network compensates automatically for a defective device or any disturbances in the transmission path. Once all the data has been collected, the final WCU in the transmission chain sends the entire data package – again via s-net – to a gateway, which is generally attached to the outside of the building. From there, the information is then forwarded via the cellular network to CWS-boco's server. A visual user interface displays the information for each individual washroom operator. The shift supervisor can then print out the washroom information as a shift plan or send it to the cleaning staff's tablets. Another option would be to have a display at the entrance to the washrooms that shows what the washroom requires. With the development phase of the "CWS Washroom Information Service" now more or less completed, a progressive field trial with a pilot customer is beginning in the first quarter of 2017. CWS-boco will market the system, one of the biggest benefits of which is its flexibility. "We can integrate new devices with their own sensor systems. Pretty much any product can be fitted with sensors and integrated into the system, from soap dispensers to toilet paper holders and waste bins," says Jens Einsiedler, Head of Business Digitalisation at CWS-boco International GmbH. And the Fraunhofer researchers aren't only thinking about washroom services. Sensor-based s-net technology makes many applications possible. "The system is ideal for any situation where sensor data has to be gathered and transmitted," Wieland explains. Thanks to its ability to organize itself, the energy-saving s-net is extremely reliable. But not only that, its transmission frequency of 868 MHz has excellent propagation characteristics, so it can penetrate walls with ease. That is particularly useful in complex buildings. Wireless sensor networks featuring this or other transmission technologies are a particularly effective way for the agricultural sector to monitor crop land. In cities, sensor networks can keep track of the water quality in rivers. Sensors can keep tabs on the stability of bridges and other constructions, and even in the field of health care this technology opens up new opportunities. For instance, the sensors could be integrated into textiles to monitor a patient's movements during physiotherapy. Further applications are also an option in the field of Industrie 4.0. Wireless sensors are ideal for supervising production plants and monitoring the status of machines or workpieces. On this basis, the system delivers all the data required to manage the process in question. Meanwhile, Wieland and his team are also currently working on a more down-to-earth but no less useful project: monitoring the fill levels of the waste bins in the pedestrian zone in the city of Reutlingen. Explore further: The world's tiniest temperature sensor is powered by radio waves
Caulier Y.,Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits
Optics Express | Year: 2010
This paper addresses the generalization of a surface inspection methodology developed within an industrial context for the characterization of specular cylindrical surfaces. The principle relies on the interpretation of a stripe pattern, obtained after projecting a structured light onto the surface to be inspected. The main objective of this paper is to apply this technique to a broader range of surface geometries and types, i.e. to free-form rough and free-form specular shapes. One major purpose of this paper is to propose a general free-form stripe image interpretation approach on the basis of a four step procedure: (i) comparison of different feature-based image content description techniques, (ii) determination of optimal feature sub-groups, (iii) fusion of the most appropriate ones, and (iv) selection of the optimal features. The first part of this paper is dedicated to the general problem statement with the definition of different image data sets that correspond to various types of free-form rough and specular shapes recorded with a structured illumination. The second part deals with the definition and optimization of the most appropriate pattern recognition process. It is shown that this approach leads to an increase in the classification rates of more than 2 % between the initial fused set and the selected one. Then, it is demonstrated that with approximately a fourth of the initial features, similar high classification rates of free-form surfaces can be obtained. © 2010 Optical Society of America.
Backstrom T.,Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits
IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing | Year: 2013
By deriving a factorization of Toeplitz matrices into the product of Vandermonde matrices, we demonstrate that the Euclidean norm of a filtered signal is equivalent with the Euclidean norm of the appropriately frequency-warped and scaled signal. In effect, we obtain an equivalence between the energy of frequency-warped and filtered signals. While the result does not provide tools for warping per se, it does show that the energy of the warped signal can be evaluated efficiently, without explicit and complex computation of the warped transform. The main result is closely related to the Vandermonde factorization of Hankel matrices. © 2013 IEEE.
Einwich K.,Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits
Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE Symposium on Design and Diagnostics of Electronic Circuits and Systems, DDECS 2011 | Year: 2011
The SystemC AMS extensions standard was published nearly one year ago. The industrial adoption has been started. The tutorial will give a comprehensive overview about the motivation, the language and her usage for different application domains like telecommunication and automotive. © 2011 IEEE.
Schinkel-Bielefeld N.,Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits
Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics | Year: 2013
Basic perceptual quality of coded audio material is commonly evaluated using ITU-R BS-1534 MUSHRA (Multi Stimulus with Hidden Reference and Anchors) listening tests. MUSHRA guidelines call for experienced listeners. However, the majority of consumers using the final product are no expert-listeners. Also the degree of expertise in a listening test may vary amongst listeners in the same laboratory. It would be useful to know how the audio quality evaluation differs between trained and untrained listeners and how training and actual tests should be designed in order to be as reliable as possible. To investigate the rating differences between experts and non-experts, we performed MUSHRA listening tests with 13 experienced and 11 inexperienced listeners using 5 speech and audio codecs delivering a wide range of basic audio quality. Except for the hidden reference, absolute ratings of non-experts were consistently higher than those of experts. However, rank order only rarely changed between experts and non-experts. For lower quality values, confidence intervals were significantly larger for non-experts than for experts. Experienced listeners set more than twice as many loops as non-experts, compared more often between codecs and listened to high quality codecs for a longer duration than non-experts. © 2013 Acoustical Society of America.