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Scientists Create Air Guitar T-shirt 105

onco_p53 writes "Australian scientists have invented a T-shirt that allows air guitarists to play actual music as they strum the air. The shirt has sensors in each elbow and sleeves to detect and interpret the air guitarist's arm movements — one arm chooses chords and the other strums imaginary strings. The gestures are then connected wirelessly to guitar audio samples to generate the music. Check out the video!"
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Scientists Create Air Guitar T-shirt

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  • Sounds more like a job for engineers. Perhaps they just meant Boffins in general?
  • Major Vs Minor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @09:38AM (#16822500) Journal
    I'll probably be modded as flamebait but I don't think that shirt was actually controlling that sound. I think this video was intended to be a viral internet video to garner venture capital for developing that kind of technology.

    I assume this is intended to only play power chords and on top of that there is no way the machine can determine if you intend the third to be major or minor in the chord. Which is interesting because in the video, the chord changes from major to minor with no change in the performer. That's fine, let's then assume that you can select a key and it will adhere to the chords in that key.

    At several points in the video, he strums by flicking his wrist instead of moving his whole arm. That's pretty standard for guitarists but doesn't explain how the shirt (with sensor fibres in the elbow) would recognize the motion. Also, near the end, the guitar that I assume he is playing strums multiple times without him doing anything.

    I read the article and, if it has been developed, this short short video did not do a good job of showing it off or selling me on it actually working. I'd rather see an average guy just messing around with it with no back track. I don't care if it's not perfect, it's just that I could make that video with crappy acid trip effects in my basement and my friend on guitar watching me move my arms.
    • Re:Major Vs Minor (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @09:44AM (#16822562) Journal
      I"m not saying I completely trust this either, but:
      At several points in the video, he strums by flicking his wrist instead of moving his whole arm. That's pretty standard for guitarists but doesn't explain how the shirt (with sensor fibres in the elbow) would recognize the motion. Also, near the end, the guitar that I assume he is playing strums multiple times without him doing anything.
      Grab your right elbow with your left hand, flick your left wrist. There is movement there, and it is different than when you movce your whole arm. It's possible to differentiate between the two I suspect, maybe not easy, but possible.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:06PM (#16824244)
        Grab your right elbow with your left hand, flick your left wrist.

        Flicking my left wrist while my right elbow is in my left hand just makes my right hand swing violently, hitting me in the head. Nice trick!
        • I shoudln't laugh like that at work, my co-workers are probably thinking me strange.

          I meant flick your right wrist... Nice reply.
        • by Tekzel ( 593039 )
          Good god, don't do that. There was no way I could keep myself from busting out laughing at work while reading that. Good thing the boss was out.
      • From the video it seems he is "playing" only the most basic cords. Hes explanation of the shirt seems to indicate that the motion detected is only the most rudimentary. The cord select is based on the angle of one arm and the actual playing is based on the movement of the other arm. The positions of the arm (angle of the shoulder) doesn't matter because there is only a sensor in the elbow. Overall this seems to be more of a software experiment then anything else. A more interesting system might have electr
        • This is actually very close to how it works at the moment - but there is definitely potential for finer control over the sound. Ah, yes, and for the ever suspicious: been there, seen the shirt, gave it a whirl... it's good fun to play.
      • by kfg ( 145172 )
        There is movement there. . .

        Then you need to practice until there isn't. Principle of Least Motion. Only contract those muscles which are actually necessary to perform the movement.

        In this case the muscles that rotate the forearm, easily detected and entirely seperate from elbow movement.

        Turns out this real virtual instrument is going to take a bit of training and practice to play well. Go figure.

        KFG
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      it's just that I could make that video with crappy acid trip effects in my basement and my friend on guitar watching me move my arms
      You have a friend? And they play guitar ?

      Are you sure you're at the right website?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        it's just that I could make that video with crappy acid trip effects in my basement and my friend on guitar watching me move my arms.
        You have a friend? And they play guitar?
        Are you sure you're at the right website?

        You sure are.

        • You have a friend? And they play guitar?
          Are you sure you're at the right website?
          You sure are.
          You're absolutely right. It should read, "You have a friend? And it plays guitar?"
    • by otacon ( 445694 )
      Way to suck the fun out of everything. I guess my dreams of being a rock star with no musical talent will have to wait.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      Perhaps they released the video so that a bunch of people on Slashdot could argue over how it is possible, and when Slashdot posters explain exactly how this could be made, the submitter will have half of their R&D done.
    • Move any of your fingers and your elbow moves, or at least skin near the elbow moves. If the sensors had a learning mode then you could conceivably come up w/ different movements for major, minor, suspended, etc. I would guess that this would work on a power chord principle, but allow you to move different fingers for different kinds of chords. Flicking your wrist also moves quite a bit near the elbow area.
    • I assume this is intended to only play power chords and on top of that there is no way the machine can determine if you intend the third to be major or minor in the chord. Which is interesting because in the video, the chord changes from major to minor with no change in the performer.

      The basic chords for any major scale are always the same:

      I, IIm, IIIm, IV, V, VIm, VIIo.

      The vast majority of pop/rock is written in D or G:

      D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#o.
      G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#o.

      All the system has to do is know what
    • I assume this is intended to only play power chords and on top of that there is no way the machine can determine if you intend the third to be major or minor in the chord. Which is interesting because in the video, the chord changes from major to minor with no change in the performer. That's fine, let's then assume that you can select a key and it will adhere to the chords in that key. There is no third in a power chord. A power chord is a stacking root and fifth interval. It's not inherently major or mi
    • I've been to the lab. I've seen the shirt. It's real, and it's controlling the sound.
  • by bryanb80 ( 1018222 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @09:40AM (#16822514)
    Aren't there more important things 'scientists' could be working on?
  • It needs to be made out of Spandex to truly make it rock.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Walt Dismal ( 534799 )
      Well, I once tried to make musical shorts out of Spandex. But the first time I tried to pop out a note, the shorts blew up and I ended in the hospital with a broken groin. Now I'm horribly disfigured and have to make a living as a Vista programmer at Microsoft.
    • In that case, it should probably require you to sport some kind of mullet to interface with the upper back. Slow head bobbing movements would make for less distortion like a solo in a ballad, whilst quick sweeping moviments would make a very dirty tone for those heavy rock-out sessions.
  • by Exsam ( 768226 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @09:41AM (#16822538)
    Bill and Ted's vision of the future was unrealistic and yet here we have another step towards it.
  • by ciaohound ( 118419 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @09:47AM (#16822598)
    What if it shrinks in the laundry -- would it require retuning? How then do you deal with armpit stains? Honestly, I don't see how these guys will get venture funding without a good answer to these basic questions.
  • by giafly ( 926567 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @10:01AM (#16822728)
    ...with a 1-finger GUI. Mimes are supposed to be silent, dammit.
  • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @10:02AM (#16822736) Homepage
    "NO STAIRWAY"
    • I was really bad on the guitar - for me it was Smoke on the Water that sounded like crap.
      • You're lucky. Atleast you can form cords. Due to a few very stupid injuries to my hands and fingers when I was younger, and when I was not quite so younger (Like when I got my hand stuck between the bowl and the mixer of a Hobart, that is, a dough-mixing machine, when I worked at a pizza joint, and broke some bones in my hand,) I have a very difficult time co-ordinating motions with multiple fingers. Things like typing, or playing single-notes quickly on a guitar are easy, as long as the fingers are move

    • Denied!
  • by Himring ( 646324 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @10:04AM (#16822768) Homepage Journal
    Impress your air girlfriend!...
    • My girlfriend is blond and she resents this joke. My wife is a brunette and loves that you have hurt me girlfriend's feelings.
  • just jumped the shark. It's all down hill from here.
  • How about inventing a pair of jeans that reads Nietzsche? or maybe a hat that throws insults and racial jokes at people? perhaps the scientists can help invent shoes that know where you're going? that would be nice...
    • by sparkyz ( 256676 )
      Actually, a pair of jeans that writes Nietzsche would be a better analogy. Or if the sample I saw was any indication, a pair of jeans that writes Dan Brown perhaps.
  • wow, (Score:1, Troll)

    by thejrwr ( 1024073 )
    if it was true it would be cool as hell, but man that was fake

    Nothing to see here, please move on
  • You still need to know how to perform the correct movements in order to create something that sounds close to the original song. The whole purpose of air guitar is that you don't need to know anything about playing guitar and any mistakes you make aren't usually apparent.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    just buy a damn Strat and a Marshall, and learn the A, G and D chords?

    You wanna be guitar heroes, and you don't even wanna put the work in on it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBiJ-K0IpDA [youtube.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Perey ( 818567 )

      That got modded insightful?

      Heck, this whole discussion has gotten off to a bad start. Maybe it's the video that did it; too many people are seeing this as a gimmick or even a fake, just because 'it doesn't look right'. The ABC's coverage [abc.net.au] does a better job than the SMH, methinks, and of course there's the CSIRO's own release [csiro.au].

      This shirt is real. The idea is to get people interested in the idea of this sort of wearable technology. There are more practical applications being put forward by the team behind it.

  • I had heard something like this before... just found it. Here's a group that has a virtual air guitar [tml.hut.fi] that works by wearing gloves. They limit you to 4 chords so you can't play anything "wrong." There is also a separate solo mode.
    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      History will remember Helsinki (metropolitain area) for two great things
      - the invention of linux (actually in Helsinki)
      - the invention of the (real, working) virtual air guitar (in Espoo, where HUT is)

      Scientists can now put down their pencils - everthing that needs to be done has been done.

      FatPhil
  • If this is real, someone get this guy a job at Harmonix.
  • Combine this with the shirt that has the equalizer bars on it, so you can show people you are rocking out. Personally, after seeing the pics / videos of both shirts, I believe the equalizer shirt exists. The air guitar shirt I see too many erros in the video. Playing notes that an elbow sensor couldn't pick up, and playing notes on its own to name 2.
  • Artist can do this sort of thing also. I went to an art show this weekend ans saw a xylophone controlled by a camera. It played when people walked in front of it. ( picture [flickr.com] video [youtube.com]). I think that this sort of thing is pretty interesting and I am looking forward to the next things that are thought up. I also tend to believe that the most interesting things are thought up by individuals. Large corporation do ok making things but individuals are, maybe, a little freer to take ideas to an extreme and not worry a
  • Does it go to 11? Ours go to 11.
  • by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:12PM (#16824318) Homepage
    Isn't the point of Air Guitar that someone who can't play guitar mimics someone who can?
  • What they need to do is add exceptionally precise Ir/motion sensors to the shirt, so it can see exactly where your arms *and* fingers are, and play appropriately. Don't forget the small backpack-sized computing device to interpret all of that on the fly fast enough to keep up. ;) Hey, one can dream.
  • and let Jack Black do the commercials
  • You don't need to be a scientist to create a T-shirt, you can just place an order at Cafe Press...
  • There's also a tambourine version (from the same research group): http://www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfka,,.html [csiro.au] The video looks more realistic than the air-guitar one imo.
  • They should sell this with the slogan, "Be excellent to each other."
  • by SlowMovingTarget ( 550823 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:50PM (#16825692) Homepage

    After reading the title

    Scientists Create Air Guitar T-shirt
    my first thought was: "How can they tell?"
  • I would think this would be more impressive as an interface to a virtual environment like Doom/Half-Life/Quake/Everquest, etc. Add something to monitor head movement and it would really start to shine.
  • by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:54PM (#16827578) Homepage Journal
    your shirt? Or, are you just happy to see me?

    (Sorry just had to strum that note...)
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:26PM (#16828048) Homepage
    ...and they want their VPL DataGlove back...


    Alright - I realize this isn't a glove interface, but what is it with geeks, "virtual" environments (including those in the head), and air guitar? Arguably, from everything I have read about the history of VPL, the DataGlove's first raison-d'etra (probably munged that!) was so that Jaron Lanier (and a buddy?) could play "air guitar" using their Atari ST and MIDI (google around on "VPL" and "DataGlove" if you don't believe me). Since that time, tons of people, companies, and bands have experimented in one form or another to bring the "air guitar" to life.

    I don't play the guitar, nor do I know how, and I won't say I have strummed a bit in the air, too - everyone has, I think. However, I know that if I really wanted to play guitar, no amount of movements "in air" will ever be able to recreate what happens with a real guitar. At best, I will get an approximation of (likely) samples of somebody else's real performance.

    Finally, I must admit I haven't read the article - but I would be willing to bet that there are 50/50 odds that the article mentions how the technology could be used to "read" sign language by monitoring the movements of the arms (yet another thing the DataGlove was touted as a useful thing to do with it, and yet another that gets hauled out year-after-year).

    I guess what I am tired of is all of this rehash of stuff we already know how to do - let's quit playing and demonstrating dead-end uses for VR (and AR) technology, and let's start using it for real world tasks!

  • This will undoubtedly go down in the history books as the greatest invention of the 21st Century. In the future, people will design cities around these things.

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