Next time you are watching Wimbledon, NFL or the Cricket and they put on one of those fantastically clear slow motion replays spare a thought for the humble ADC (Analogue to Digital convertor).
These devices play an intrinsic part of modern day living.
You will find these in mobile phones, HDTV, telephones, radios, in fact almost anything that makes use of audio/visual media will be certainly using an ADC.
So what is an ADC?
Life is mostly analogue in nature things change from one state to another through a series of progressive levels. E.g. night turning into day. A night sky does not instantly turn to day light, it progressively gets lighter from night to day.
Sound is typically made up of analogue signals which change in frequency and amplitude.
Conditioning of analogues signals present all kinds of issues, most of all making repeatability of the signal very difficult.
Digital on the other hand has clearly defined states and although one analogue to digital conversion may not be Exactly the same, it is far easier to maintain accurate reproductions of the original source.
Going back 10-15 years or so, the only way slow motion could be achieved was by running through thousands of meters of film or magnetic tape in a few seconds, frantically rewinding it and then playing it back. In these playbacks the quality was usually poor and there was missing information represented by blurring of the image.
These days using high speed analogue digital techniques, you can literally see the sweat droplets coming off our Tennis stars forehead in unbelievable detail!.
See also this article for more details on the different types of ADC’s and their application.