Track 3: Get the Future Started
Even if the CD still has some life in it, the day will no doubt come when (assuming all music doesn't go virtual) some other physical medium takes over. No one can say for sure what that will be, but there are guesses.
Dr. Stan of Philips predicts that CDs "will gradually be phased out and replaced by successors in optical disc media, solid-state, and - to a certain extent - hard-disk drives. Super Audio CDs and DVD-Audio discs have tried to replace the CD, but they haven't really succeeded; the number of titles released on SACD and DVD-A hasn't exceeded several thousand, while CDs still lead in terms of music titles. At the same time, companies are releasing audio on simple DVD formats like DVD-Video, so that's a potential replacement for CD audio in the next years."
Other observers are a little more visionary when pondering future audio formats. "I think music is going to end up on a chip the way it has already ended up on a hard drive," says audio pioneer Bob Carver, the man who founded Phase Linear, Carver Corporation, and finally Sunfire. "The little baby hard drive will give way to a chip, and the whole thing will be there." Still, he adds, "It is nice to have your music on something that's round and goes around."
Another possibility, as Ken Pohlmann revealed in his June "Reality Bytes" column here in S&V, is a device that projects media right onto your brain. Sony has actually filed patents for such a technology.
If you're still worried about the life expectancy of our old friend the CD, ask yourself: Do old formats ever really die? Case in point: A new technology from the ELP corporation costs an eardrum-blowing - wait for it - $15,000. This device, like CD players, relies on lasers to "read" the acoustic signal engraved onto round, flat plates. So just what, then, is the revolutionary new medium this device plays? That old standby, the 331/3-rpm vinyl LP record.
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