Amar Bose passed away yesterday.
I have always been in awe of this inventor + professor + entrepreneur + visionary engineer.
The first time I heard about him was on a sultry afternoon of 1987, at a home in Thiruvananthapuram. My friend Ram had brought me there to see the 'best music system ever'. As crystal clear music filled the room, I realized that the big boxes, the woofers and tweeters, were nowhere to be seen. It seemed so incredible that those tiny black boxes perched on the walls, pointing in odd directions, could pack in so much of the power of music!
Amar Bose was a pioneer in the field of Psychoacoustics -- the science of sound perception. He was the first to realize that 80 percent of the music you heard in a concert hall came to you, not from the stage, but indirectly, bouncing off the walls and ceilings. So his 'jewel cubes' did the same - instead of pointing at the listeners, they aimed at the walls first.
Many glowing obituaries are now being written about Bose. One such article published in NYT, credits him for breakthrough products like the noise-cancellation headphones and innovative suspension system for cars.
I did a double take on that -- Suspension system for cars?? -- what does that have to do with psychoacoustics or sound engineering??
According to HowStuffWorks, Bose suspension systems use the concept of amplifiers in a completely different setting. Instead of the usual spring-driven suspensions, these use -
"linear electromagnetic motors (LEMs) at each wheel...with Amplifiers that provide electricity to the motors in such a way that their power is regenerated with each compression of the system...they can extend and compress at a much greater speed, virtually eliminating all vibrations in the passenger cabin. The wheel's motion can be so finely controlled that the body of the car remains level regardless of what's happening at the wheel. The LEM can also counteract the body motion of the car while accelerating, braking and cornering, giving the driver a greater sense of control."As with the acoustic speakers, the Bose suspension systems too must be frightfully expensive. But I guess that is a small price to pay to learn from a teacher who set the highest standards for himself, to tackle high-risk problems in science and engineering.
* NYT Obituary - http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/business/amar-g-bose-acoustic-engineer-and-inventor-dies-at-83.html?_r=0
* HowStuffWorks: Bose Suspension Systems -- http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-suspension9.htm