Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Drumstick Prosthesis for Amputees

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Drumstick Prosthesis for Amputees

Article excerpt

Gil Weinberg has already built a band of robotic musicians in his Georgia Tech lab. Now he has created a robotic apparatus that can be attached to amputees, allowing its technology to be embedded into humans. The robotic drumming prosthesis has motors that power two drumsticks. The first stick is controlled both physically by the musicians' arms and electronically using electromyography (EMG) muscle sensors. The other stick "listens" to the music being played and improvises.

"The second drumstick has a mind of its own," said Weinberg, founding director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. "The drummer essentially becomes a cyborg. It's interesting to see him playing and improvising with part of his arm that he doesn't totally control."

The prosthesis was created for Jason Barnes, a drummer who lost his right arm below the elbow in an accident. The Atlanta Institute of Music and Media student built his own prosthetic device shortly after the accident. It wasn't very flexible. He could bang the drums by moving his elbow up and down but couldn't control the speed or bounce of the stick without a wrist or fingers. That's when Weinberg stepped in to create a single-stick device with sensors that respond to Barnes' bicep muscles.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Now I can flex and send signals to a computer that tightens or loosens the stick and controls the rebound," Barnes said.

Weinberg, who has already built a robotic percussionist and marimba player that use computer algorithms to improvise with human musicians, took the prosthesis a step further. He added the second stick and gave it a "musical brain."

"Jason can pull the robotic stick away from the drum when he wants to be fully in control," says Weinberg. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.