Aerodrums uses real-time motion-tracking technology to accurately translate air drumming into sound. The inventors say it allows professional and amateur drummers alike to keep all the finesse and control of a real drum kit, but one that can be carried in a small bag and does not annoy the neighbours. Matthew Stock reports.
What you're seeing is not a trick ... this is an invisible drum kit. Aerodrums uses real-time motion-tracking technology to accurately translate the movements of the drummer into sounds. But unlike a traditional drum kit, this one is small enough to carry in a bag and - when used with headphones - won't annoy the neighbours. Bright light illuminates retro-reflective markers on the drum sticks and feet, with a high speed camera tracking the motion. A drummer himself since he was nine, co-inventor Richard Lee said complex algorithms make the Aerodrums experience realistic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICHARD LEE, AERODRUMS CO-INVENTOR, SAYING: "It's very velocity sensitive, so if you hit quiet you get very quiet sounds, if you hit loud, you hear loud sounds. It's very responsive. It took a lot of research to get the latency as low as possible because that's the thing that kind of breaks the illusion of 'aerodrumming'. If there's any latency at all then drummers can perceive it and it doesn't feel right." Professional drummer Mike Dolbear has been performing and teaching the drums for 35 years. Here, he tries out Aerodrums for the first time. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MIKE DOLBEAR, PROFESSIONAL DRUMMER AND TEACHER, SAYING: "If you were back stage and warming up before you want out and played; you could choose those. If you were in a hotel room, you can just put your headphones on. And it's great, it's a great tool." The makers have toyed with idea of Aerodrums gloves for playing hand drums and even combining a virtual reality headset. But co-inventor Yann Morvan said their priority was making Aerodrums a viable alternative for drummers, and not a novelty. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YANN MORVAN, AERODRUMS CO-ONVENTOR, SAYING: "We didn't want Aerodrums to be a fad. We didn't want it to be the gadget of the year and then it's forgotten. We wanted it to be a proper musical instrument, that is introducing air drumming as a legitimate way to drum. And keeps going, keeps improving until it's fine to air drum live, it's fine to record using air drums because it's a real musical instrument." Traditional drummers may take some convincing before they make the switch. But for those without the space, or who want to stay on good terms with thier neighbours...Aerodrums could hit the spot.