Thursday, November 29, 2007
Cool Technology of the Week
Have you ever wanted to record MP3's of voice or a musical instrument? Since the iPod does not do this, the easy way to record sound is to buy a portable MP3 recorder such as the Edirol R-09, M-Audio MicroTrack or Zoom H2.
However, then you're stuck with yet another gadget that does only one thing. Why not use your existing laptop for this purpose?
I tried it and the sound quality was so bad, that I was ready to give up. My audiophile friends explained that typical microphones really need a pre-amp before plugging them into a laptop. However, I did not want to spend the money on a high quality microphone plus pre-amp.
I discovered an entirely different technology that worked perfectly - USB Microphones. These devices include a high quality analog microphone, a pre-amp and an analog to digital converter. They plug directly into a USB port and do not use the audio components of your computer at all! Here's an overview of the technology and the leading products
I purchased a Blue Snowball Microphone for $100 and was amazed by its quality. I used the Snowball with my Mac using Garage Band, my Ubuntu Linux laptop using Audacity and a Windows XP laptop using Sound Recorder. Here's a sample of my Shakuhachi Japanese Flute recorded with the Snowball.
The Blue Snowball USB Microphone - truly a Cool Technology
In my Cool Technology of the Week entry two weeks ago, I discussed the Orb. This week, our Orbs went live. Per this picture, we've placed an Orb on the CEO's desk and linked it to our Emergency Department waiting room volume metrics.
The Orb supports 35 different colors and glows Blue if no patients are waiting, Greens for 1 to 5, Yellows for 6 to 10, Reds for 11 to 20 and Flashing Red for over 20. We were able to create this fully automated "glance-able" interface in one day by simply repurposing existing Service Orientated Architecture (SOA) tools already deployed in our clinical systems. If it is successful in the CEOs office, we'll add additional Orbs and a menu of performance metrics to track.
Posted by John Halamka at 4:37 PM