Need an extra hand with that drum kit? Georgia Tech has you covered. Their smart, wearable robotic arm can turn drummers into cyborg super-musicians.
The 2-foot long arm goes over the shoulder and lets drummers play with a whopping three arms. Through sophisticated sensing, motion-capture technology, on-board motors and smart programming, the arm responds to human gestures and music in real time.
This smart arm was developed by Georgia Tech professor Gil Weinberg, who also directs the Center for Music Technology. You might remember his work for Atlanta drummer Jason Barnes, who lost his right arm below the elbow in an electrocution accident. Weinberg built him a robotic drumming arm with one stick that picks up electrical signals from upper arm muscles, and another stick that improvises. The prosthesis helped Barnes drum faster and better than ever.
The latest arm is not a replacement but a boost. ”The machine learns how your body moves and can augment and complement your activity,” Weinberg said in a Georgia Tech press release. “It becomes a part of you.”
As soon as the drummer goes to play the hi-hat, the robotic arm moves over to the ride, and when the drummer switches to the snare, the arm goes for the toms, according to Georgia Tech. You speed up, so does the arm. You want some sweet improvisation, it can handle that.
Ever seen a real three-armed cyborg drummer? Here’s your chance:
Beyond setting stages on fire with mad skills, similar robotic arms could lend a hand with other precise, intelligent work. Weinberg imagines technicians getting help running experiments or doing repairs.
He also pictures doctors using similar arms to bring over tools and even aid with surgeries. Well, more than robots already do. Seems like there’s little left that robots can’t pick up.