Home > Articles

What Is Digital Signal Processing?

  • Print
  • + Share This
  • 💬 Discuss
This chapter is from the book
If you watch television, connect to the Internet, use a digital camera, make a cell phone call, drive a car, type on the keyboard of a home computer, or use a charge or debit card, you are taking advantage of Digital Signal Processing. This introduction to The Essential Guide to Digital Signal Processing explains what Digital Signal Processing is, starting with an explanation of signals.

The Phantom Technology

The technology of digital signal processing (DSP) has affected our modern lives in the most significant ways. If you watch television, connect to the Internet, use a digital camera, make a cell phone call, drive a car, type on the keyboard of a home computer, or use a charge or debit card, you are taking advantage of DSP. In fact, DSP is the technical brains in all those devices. Although we take advantage of DSP dozens of times a day, very few people have ever heard of digital signal processing and this strange situation is why DSP has been called a phantom technology. To show how much we depend on this invisible DSP technology, Table 1.1 provides a short list of what life would be like without DSP.

Table 1.1 Life without Digital Signal Processing

Missing Technology:

Comments:

No cell or smartphones.

No texting or Web surfing. Anyone remember pay telephones?

No computers.

No Internet, no e-mail, no Facebook, no YouTube, no Skype.

No cable or satellite television.

Viewing restricted to a few local, lowdefinition TV channels.

No compact discs (CDs).

Go back to audio cassette tapes.

No digital video discs (DVDs).

Who remembers movies on low-definition VHS magnetic tapes?

No charge card purchases

Cash or check only.

No digital cameras.

Plan on taking exposed camera film to the drug store.

No ultrasound and no MRI or CAT scans.

Revert to exploratory surgery (opening you up) to investigate internal medical problems.

No Global Positioning System (GPS).

Go back to paper maps.

No Doppler radar.

No long-range weather predictions.

No advanced oil exploration.

Higher gasoline prices. (Yes, even higher.)

No video games.

Kids would have to go outside to play.

No airline flights during bad weather.

Bring your sleeping bag to the airport.

No musical greeting cards.

How boring.

Given that we now realize how important DSP is in our daily lives, it’s reasonable to ask just what is this thing called DSP technology. To understand the meaning of the phrase digital signal processing, we must first explain what we mean by the word signal.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Discussions

comments powered by Disqus