Real-time computing means much more than getting a seemingly immediate response after hitting Enter. In fact, its real meaning involves interfacing to real machines doing real things in, well, their own real time.
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Take, for example, the Gleason 600HTL Turbo Lapper, whose controller was designed by Viewpoint Systems in Rochester, N.Y. Basically, it laps beveled gears (that is, polishes them by grinding an abrasive slurry between them) until they mesh so perfectly they purr rather than clatter — an attribute important to the car makers that use the beveled gears in car differentials, explains John Campbell, vice president at Viewpoint.