Play That Funky Music, Cyborg

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Gil Weinberg, who we met a few months ago at Georgia Tech, has a mission: to make it easy for amputees and the disabled to play beautiful music. His first project is a drumming prosthesis, a system that allows a user who is missing a hand to play improvise as well as the jazz greats.

The arm attaches to an amputee’s stump and allows him or her to play the drums. A second stick keeps time and improvises based on the music being played, adding fills and trills galore. It’s like having a little extra hand attached to your real hand and it’s really cool.

Interestingly, the player isn’t just bashing away with the main stick. The system has a built-in electromyography muscle sensor that triggers lighter and harder taps.

You can read a little bit more about the arm here but generally this is part of Georgia Tech’s music engineering program where Weinberg has taught robots to dance and play along with complex scores. The drummer above, Jason Barnes, will appear with his prosthesis this month at the Atlanta Science Festival.