Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology has developed a wearable robotic limb that can turn a human into a cyborg drum god.
Two years ago, inventor Gil Weinberg created a prosthetic smart arm for drummer Jason Barnes, helping him return to the drum set after losing his right arm in an accident (check out the video below). Now he’s created another that can function as a third arm.
The new appendage attaches to the subject’s shoulder, and it’s built with human motion capture technology that allows it to work seamlessly with the drummer’s two human arms.
“If you augment humans with smart, wearable robotics, they could interact with their environment in a much more sophisticated manner,” said Weinberg 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 new gadget features an accelerometer that’s always aware of its position relative to the drum set. It can also monitor the music in the room, allowing it to match tempo and even improvise on established beats and rhythms.
“If you have a robotic device that is part of your body, it’s a completely different feeling from working alongside a regular robot,” said Weinberg. “The machine learns how your body moves and can augment and complement your activity. It becomes a part of you.”
This is all awesome, but the million-dollar question remains: what else can we do with this technology?
“Imagine if doctors could use a third arm to bring them tools, supplies or even participate in surgeries. Technicians could use an extra hand to help with repairs and experiments,” Weinberg continued. “Music is based on very timely, precise movements. It’s the perfect medium to try this concept of human augmentation and a third arm.”
Doctors are important and all, unquestionably, but how long until we can buy our Iron Man suits? Let us know what you’d use the technology for in the comments below.
IMAGE: Georgia Tech