Ever wish you had an extra arm so you can do things like…play music better? Prepare to have your mind blown. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed a robotic limb that gives drummers an extra hand. The “smart arm” can be strapped to a drummer’s shoulder, and…
Ever wish you had an extra arm so you can do things like…play music better? Prepare to have your mind blown.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed a robotic limb that gives drummers an extra hand. The "smart arm" can be strapped to a drummer's shoulder, and responds to human gestures and the music it hears.
So, for instance, when the drummer plays the high hat cymbal, the two-foot-long smart arm will play the ride cymbal. Then, when the drummer switches to the snare, the robotic arm moves over to the tom. Check it out for yourself in the video below.
"If you augment humans with smart, wearable robotics, they could interact with their environment in a much more sophisticated manner," Georgia Tech Professor Gil Weinberg (pictured above, right), who oversees the project, said in a statement. "The third arm provides a much richer and more creative experience, allowing the human to play many drums simultaneously with virtuosity and sophistication that are not otherwise possible."
The robotic arm listens to the music in the room and can actually improvise based on the beat and rhythm. If the musician is playing chilled-out beat, for example, the arm will match that tempo. Or, if the drummer starts thrashing harder, the arm will turn it up as well.
The robot arm doesn't get in the way because it's constantly monitoring its location in proximity to the drums as well as the musician's actual flesh and blood arms. The researchers also used "human motion capture technology" to ensure the arm moves naturally.
Now, Weinberg and his team are working to link the arm's movements to brain activity. They're experimenting with a so-called electroencephalogram headband that detects a drummer's brain patterns, so that one day the arm might be able to react when the musician simply thinks about changing up the tempo.
And they see this technology in the future benefiting more than just drummers.
"Imagine if doctors could use a third arm to bring them tools, supplies or even participate in surgeries," Weinberg said. "Technicians could use an extra hand to help with repairs and experiments. Music is based on very timely, precise movements. It's the perfect medium to try this concept of human augmentation and a third arm."
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