SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Gilad Parann-Nissany, Cloud Ventures, RealWire News Distribution, CloudCommons 2012

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Because it's Friday: The speaking player piano

If you listen carefully (and read the subtitles), this computer-controlled piano speaks English words in the voice of a child (via ScienceTip):   It's an interesting work of art and a cool (although not exactly innovative) engineering project, but what's surprising to me is not that reproducing a voice with piano keys is possible, but that it does it so poorly that captions are required. Naively, I would have thought that decomposing any waveform into 88 frequencies (or maybe 52 - it looks like only the white keys are used) would reproduce the original sound with decent fidelity, but it seems that's not the case. Compare this to the way that we represent colours on a computer screen: just 3 frequencies (R, G, and B) are sufficient to represent any real-world colour which is, in fact, a continuous spectrum of frequencies — just like sounds. I know our eyes have just three different types of colour receptors and I'm sure that has something to do with it. Still, colours seem more complex to sounds to me, so this kinda blows my mind.  That's all for this week. Enjoy your weekend!

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More Stories By David Smith

David Smith is Vice President of Marketing and Community at Revolution Analytics. He has a long history with the R and statistics communities. After graduating with a degree in Statistics from the University of Adelaide, South Australia, he spent four years researching statistical methodology at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, where he also developed a number of packages for the S-PLUS statistical modeling environment. He continued his association with S-PLUS at Insightful (now TIBCO Spotfire) overseeing the product management of S-PLUS and other statistical and data mining products.<

David smith is the co-author (with Bill Venables) of the popular tutorial manual, An Introduction to R, and one of the originating developers of the ESS: Emacs Speaks Statistics project. Today, he leads marketing for REvolution R, supports R communities worldwide, and is responsible for the Revolutions blog. Prior to joining Revolution Analytics, he served as vice president of product management at Zynchros, Inc. Follow him on twitter at @RevoDavid