Exploring the Engineering Behind Everyday Tech: Unveiling the Complex Systems of Google Maps, LED Wristbands, Spotify, and More

The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Behind series explores the intricate technology that powers everyday devices and platforms that have become integral parts of our lives. The latest episode delves into Google Maps’ complex data collection system, LED wristbands used in concerts and events, Spotify’s recommendation algorithm, the speed and security of tap-to-pay technology, noise-cancelling headphones, and the tech innovations behind the Sphere in Las Vegas. The episode also examines Shazam’s audio fingerprinting system that identifies music in seconds, despite background noise.

  • Google Maps processes over 50 million updates a day from a community of over 150 million contributors.
  • Google Maps employs a combination of satellite imagery, Street View data, and photogrammetry for accurate mapping.
  • Spotify’s recommendation system uses collaborative and content-based filtering, considering user behavior, audio analysis, and cultural context.
  • LED wristbands at events use RF and infrared technology to create synchronized light shows, with companies like PixMob leading the field.
  • Tap-to-pay technology relies on NFC (Near Field Communication) and is considered faster and more secure than traditional methods.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones use microphones, processors, and speakers to create an opposite sound wave, cancelling out background noise.
  • The Sphere in Las Vegas hosts the world’s largest high-definition screen and utilizes a new Big Sky camera system for immersive content.
  • Shazam identifies music by creating an audio fingerprint and matching it against a database, even in noisy environments.

The Wall Street Journal is an American business and economic-focused international daily newspaper based in New York City. The Journal is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp.

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