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Air Guitar That Actually Plays! 228

An anonymous reader writes "New Scientist has a nice feature of a real air guitar developed by a three students at the Helsinki University of Technology. In a nutshell it is a Linux PC with a sound card and webcam."
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Air Guitar That Actually Plays!

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  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @12:56PM (#14138728) Homepage Journal
    ...on anyone who made a skin flute that actually works. At least no one from /.
  • Dude! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Somethingsomethingw ( 914875 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @12:57PM (#14138737)
    Most excellent!

    air guitar
    • Re:Dude! (Score:3, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 )
      Most excellent!

      "Most Old" is more like it. His approach is new, but the VR community has had this working for a LONG time. As described in the book "VR Construction Kit" (probably out of print, I'm too lazy to check) positional gloves with finger sensors (e.g. The PowerGlove) were originally invented by a fellow who wanted an air guitar that would work. After a bit of finagling with the electronics, he came up with gloves containing Piezo-electric strips that could detect finger position. Thus the first "ai
      • Go watch either of the Bill & Ted movies and you'll understand exactly what the GP was referencing...
        • No, I got the reference. ("Rock on Dudes and Dudettes! ... Those Medieval babes are bodacious! ... RUFUS!") I'm just pointing out that it's not quite as "Excellent" as previously thought. (Not that it isn't a cool hack, mind you.) :-)

          P.S. "Be excellent to each other, and PARTY ON DUDES!" ;-D
      • "Most Old" is more like it. His approach is new, but the VR community has had this working for a LONG time. As described in the book "VR Construction Kit" (probably out of print, I'm too lazy to check) positional gloves with finger sensors (e.g. The PowerGlove) were originally invented by a fellow who wanted an air guitar that would work. After a bit of finagling with the electronics, he came up with gloves containing Piezo-electric strips that could detect finger position. Thus the first "air guitar that w
  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @12:58PM (#14138750) Journal
    The real story here is that they got a Webcam AND a sound card working under Linux...on the same box.
    • Re:Missing the point (Score:5, Informative)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:02PM (#14138798) Journal
      http://airguitar.tml.hut.fi.nyud.net:8090/tech.htm l [nyud.net]

      The real story is:
      you + webcam input + gesture recognition + musical interpretation + physical sound model = rock'n'roll!

      I'm not even going to try and give you the Soviet Russian version of that.
    • You know, that may seem like a trolly smart-alec comment, but it is VERY true. I am experimenting with the same type of real-time video stuff that these guys are doing (locating people, swords, guns, etc.) and I'm doing it under Windows for this exact reason.

  • Next... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @12:58PM (#14138755)
    Next, an imaginary audience that actually applauds.
    • Re:Next... (Score:3, Informative)

      by pipingguy ( 566974 )

      Isn't that what laugh tracks are for?
    • Uhh, that was mastered many years ago for TV sitcoms without live studio audiences.
    • Re:Next... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FridayBob ( 619244 )
      "Next, an imaginary audience that actually applauds."

      You know, this shouldn't be too hard to do. You could to write some software to simulate different types of concert crowds, at different levels of enthusiasm.

      You could, for instance, have it react to the signal from your electric guitar or microphone to fill in the quite moments of your jam session. You could also it produce a roar of recognition from a virtual crowd for whatever piece of shit you start practicing on your favorite instrument. Whenev

      • The "Hollywood applause machine" is a big reason why we are where we are now regarding entertainment.

        One of the funniest lines I heard on the Simpsons was a reference to viewers actually focussing their eyeballs.

        Someone needs to write a lengthy Salon article or a book on the evils of manufactured approval.
    • Next, an imaginary audience that actually applauds.

      Does Karaoke Revolution count?

    • I'm thinking how cool this would be at karaoke - and people do applaud for that! Virtual singers AND virtual players.. Neat!

  • by Darius Jedburgh ( 920018 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:00PM (#14138776)
    ...I just built myself a theremin based partly on this [oldtemecula.com]. It transmits a pair of RF signals at around 1MHz. As you move your hand around it varies the inductance of the coils so that the coils transmit at slightly different frequencies. As a result you get a signal at the average of the two frequencies modulated by the beat frequency. Tune an AM receiver to the average frequency and you get to listen to just the beats. It took a couple of hours to build. (The project I linked to above has an AM receiver built into the circuit but I didn't bother with that as I already had a spare radio.)
    • Ah yes... to hear one of the few "theremin solos" that exist in popular music, check out LedZep's "Whole Lotta Love".
      • Weird! I sold my copy of Led Zep's remasters a week before building the theremin. I'll be disappointed if the version of Whole Lotta Love on there had the theremin on it. I hadn't noticed it. Still, the money I got from selling it went towards this [amazon.com] which has some amazing theremin playing. I had no clue I was simply exchanging one theremin track for another!
        • "Weird! I sold my copy of Led Zep's remasters a week before building the theremin. I'll be disappointed if the version of Whole Lotta Love on there had the theremin on it."

          He plays the theramin on pretty much every version of WLL...the only exception I can think of is the abbreviated one at the end of the Zeppelin DVD set from Knebworth.

          It is in the middle part of the song with all the weird sounds flying around mixed in with Plant's wailing. In the movie, The Song Remains The Same...you can see Jimmy w

      • If you're interested, check out this Flecktones show [archive.org] with guest thereminist pamela kurstin.
  • by Viper Daimao ( 911947 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:00PM (#14138780) Journal
    Excellent! Finally we can get to cleaning up air polution with our air guitar playing, and usher in a new Utopia.

    Party on Bill!
    Party on Ted!
  • Mismatch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The_reformant ( 777653 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:01PM (#14138783)
    Why does strumming frantically produce hammer-ons? If im using hammer-ons and pull offs i have to strum less not more.

    To be honest in the hands of novices you could just play a random pre-recorded solo and they probably wouldnt know the difference and in the hands of someone who can play....why???
  • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:03PM (#14138802) Homepage Journal
    How can it distinguish the different chords? TFA only mentions two orange blobs (the two hands), but they don't say anything about how to recognize when the different strings are pressed.
    • Well hopefully it can't. That is part of the reason geeks play air guitar, they have not musical ability at all. This will ruin it for all of them.
    • Re:Question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
      How can it distinguish the different chords? TFA only mentions two orange blobs (the two hands), but they don't say anything about how to recognize when the different strings are pressed.

      Do you really play real and different chords and solos when playing air guitar?

      Personally, I make the shit up because I don't know how to play guitar. Thats why I'm playing the air one.
    • Thats a damn good point. I didnt spend the last 15 years perfecting my air guitar technique to have this damn contraption play a DMaj7 when I was fretting a Asus4!!!
    • Knowing where to put your fingers kind of misses the point of air guitar, which is simply a fancy version of tapping your toe to music. If you actually knew fingerings and such, you wouldn't be playing air guitar, would you?

      Next up, a machine that takes toe taps and produces full blown symphonies. Sure, they all sound like Beethoven's Fifth, but that's gotta be good, right?
  • by mumblestheclown ( 569987 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:03PM (#14138804)
    Yet again we see a slashdot article that mentions something neat that people did with a PC with a general purpose operating system. Does the operating system matter or is the choice of OS even interesting? Probably not more than and possibly much less than the programming language that the thing was written in.. but does that get mentioned?

    Face it, folks. Linux is a general purpose operating system on which you can do all of the expected things that one can do with such. We are WELL past the time where you can do basic things, like program and use webcams, on Linux, and nobody reading slashdot really needs to be fluffed further in this respect.

    As far as this story goes, unless the inventors did something that could more or less only have been done on linux, then the linux aspect of this story is irrelevant.

    • "Yet again we see a slashdot article that mentions something neat that people did with a PC with a general purpose operating system."

      This story was better when it appeared on digg.com last week, too.
    • You might notice that the text of the post is not, "OMFG LINUX WINS AGAIN I BET WINDOWS COULDN'T DO AIR GUITARS!" Rather, it states that a real playing air guitar simulator has been developed as the primary point, and, hey, neat this is the technology it runs on by the way.
    • No, I disagree. Perhaps maybe not the Slashdot crowd, but in general, the non Linux users still see Linux as a server OS. I once showed someone a video on Linux and the reaction was "Huh, that's weird. I have a hard time imagining a video running on Linux". He said this as he was _watching_ the video and as if he couldn't believe his own eyes (no it wasn't pr0n).
    • Exactly. And furthermore, is this were developed on Mac OSX or Solaris or Windows, do you think this would have been accepted as a /. story?

      The bias here towards Linux is really getting old at this point. Might as well redo the slogan to be "News for Linux nerds. Stuff that matters as long as it's Linux."
    • Is it just me or is all the "linux bias" way outdone by all the "they mentioned linux, it must be biased" (as if linux should be shunned and be the operating system that should not be named) or the "oh no, this is pro-linux slashdot is biased, slashdot only likes linux" and "wow, this is pro-microsoft, I can't believe I found it in slashdot because slashdot is so pro-linux" comments. The article isn't even about linux, linux is just the system the thing was made on. Would you rather them lie and say this w
    • I did the same thing 6 years ago, with a web cam on a windows 98 box, using Visual C++. So maybe you could say that Linux caught up with 6 year old windows technology, just kidding, although I'm sure I'll get plenty of anti-Microsoft snaps. I've also done many another web cam projects, center a web cam on a moving target, point a web cam at a speaking target, point a laser pointer at a moving target, recognive text on a white board as people write making a virtual white board. All in all this sort of thing
    • Face it, folks. Linux is an awesome operating system which can do many things that windows can, but doesn't have inhibiting copy-protection and is open source. Anyone can make modifications to it if they want. Its also free. Its been developed by a community of developers around the world. I say, fluff on. Linux deserves all the attention it can get. Overall, it makes the world a better place for the consumer by putting a little heat on the commercial competition.
  • Cool, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:04PM (#14138815)
    when I play air guitar the traditional way it sounds good.

    This new way might sound somewhat like how my actual guitar playing sounds: like crap.

    More seriously, now that technology is this good, and we have things like this and the new Nintendo controller, maybe it's time for Nintendo (or someone else) to bring back the Power Glove [angelfire.com] for games and other computer stuff.
  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:06PM (#14138840) Homepage Journal
    Ok, dont tell me, that dont even enter into the "Vaporware" category, is just thin air.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:07PM (#14138844)
    In a nutshell it is a Linux PC with a sound card and webcam.
    A Linux PC in a nutshell? Brilliant!
  • Mac Isight (Score:3, Informative)

    by olddotter ( 638430 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:08PM (#14138853) Homepage
    There are some games and sound software that do similar things on the Mac using the isight. I soon expect to see the user interface from Minority Report in operation on one of the more enlightened operations systems (read: non-microsoft).
  • Perfect... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JonN ( 895435 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:12PM (#14138890) Homepage
    ...now all I need is an air mic for the shower and I can start my album
  • by Serengeti ( 48438 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:13PM (#14138906)
    ... even if they succeed completely with this project, they're all still just a bunch of wannabe's.
  • Very interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:16PM (#14138937) Homepage Journal
    As a musician and computer geek, I'm really fascinated by how they do this. There are so many nuances to guitar playing that it will be intriguing to see how they can pull this off.

    For example, does it analyze the angle/arc of the left hand to determine which strings are being stuck? That would suck to slightly arc your hand and suddenly you're playing the wrong string.

    How does it determine where your left hand is in relation to the position of the neck? There are various neck sizes, after all.

    The article implies that this is meant to simulate an electric guitar. With acoustic, you can strum on just about any position on the string and it will sound the same. With electric, the sound varies on the position due to the different pickups, each with its own tonal qualities, but each pickup is only an inch or so apart. Can this differentiate such minute details?

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not looking at this as an "all or nothing" deal like a lot of people do on Slashdot. Oh, well, it can't do everything so it's teh suck! This is a very interesting start. I'm pondering more for what its potential could be more than what it can do right now. The whole cliché of taking baby steps first comes to mind.

    Personally, I'd rather play the real thing. But at least this method could get people interested in guitar playing if they are too intimidated to buy a real one. And this won't result in painful calluses at the finger tips. :)
    • Heh I asked the same question. See the answer here [slashdot.org].
      • Realistically, they *could* do it. Set a position for the strumming hand, press a pedal to set the position, set a position with the other hand for farthest fret, press a pedal to set the position, set a position for the innermost fret, press a pedal to set the position. Now the system has a way of determining the distance from the strumming hand and could simulate chords based on how far away the chord hand is from the strumming hand. For example, the farthest is C Maj, the next step in is D Maj, etc.
  • It finally happened! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <{ten.enilnotpo} {ta} {rehtorgw}> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:18PM (#14138953) Journal

    Every frustrated, talentless, guitarist-wanna-be can now boot up and fill the air with cacophonic emanations that sound nothing like their axe-grinding heroes.

    Where do I get one?

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:21PM (#14138970)
    If you can play it 'just like a guitar' - why not just buy a guitar?

    Is there some weird aversion to strings that people have?
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by waif69 ( 322360 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:23PM (#14138985) Journal
    Now I won't just look stupid, I'll sound stupid too!
  • by ryen ( 684684 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:28PM (#14139035)
    Might be useful here [airguitarusa.com].
  • This could actually change not just the way music is developed, but all of human-computer interaction.

    Ramifications include:

    • Systems for air piano, air sax, air drums, etc. You could have a whole air band.
    • Air music instruction. Learn to play some instrument using a mockup cardboard model, then just air.
    • New air instruments. A program could interpret how a dancer/artist moves as music.
    • New art medium. Life magazine ran a picture of Picasso painting in air with a flashlight [time.com], captured by a long-ex
  • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:29PM (#14139045) Journal
    Versus.. you know. The real air guitar.
  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:29PM (#14139048) Homepage
    And in tomorrow news :
    Jean-Michel Jarre [wikipedia.org] is claiming prior art [equinoxejmjarre.free.fr]...
  • It strikes me that this thing represents a more abstract achievement which can be reapplied in very interesting ways with a little thought.

    If it's accurate to any degree then this means that fairly minute body gestures can be interpreted and recorded digitally. So, you can:

    1. Record body mechanics of top athletes and use the recordings to do diffs against people in training
    2. Preserve a record of folk dances for dying cultures
    3. Maintain a record of surgery performed. In a litigous society this would probab
  • by grungebox ( 578982 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:34PM (#14139091) Homepage
    The Air Guitar Championship [airguitarusa.com] is a very real contest. This invention just cheapens the craft, the artistry, the beauty, of air guitar. Check out the video on that link, btw.
  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:34PM (#14139094) Journal
    in 1992 i saw a demonstration of air drums running on an amiga with a camera and a frame grabber...

    as usual, it took a decade for peecees to match the fabulous amiga of lore
  • Air is suing for copyright infringement and defamation of character, how dare they. It seems they are finnished.
  • ... if they coupled it with a "karaoke" machine.

    However, instead of omitting the vocal track, the "karaoke" machine would omit the lead (or rhythm?) guitar track.

    It might encourage the tone-deaf "singers" to try something else. If nothing else, the air-guitar antics would be more entertaining.

  • With that out of the way we can finaly create Cold Fusion
  • by delirium of disorder ( 701392 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:54PM (#14139291) Homepage Journal
    Computer hand tracking is old technology, but using it to make a functional "air guitar" is neat. Check out this paper [72.14.203.104] and this video [uiuc.edu] for older work in this area.
  • While people keep making references to Bill and Ted, let us not forget about the origin.

    We can thank Joe Cocker who, back in the late 60s, gave us this wonderful instrument during one of his many drunken performances.

  • All white, uncoordinated males can be seen doing this while they dance (they usually alternate with air guitar). I actually tried to post this twice while listening to my favourite Heart tunes on the headphones, but I knocked things over trying to be Neal Peart in my mind and had to reset.

    Maybe I'm Spinal Tap's next drummer!
  • EyeToy: Play2 [playstation.com] for the Playstation has an air guitar game.

    And a drum game, and a boxing game, and a bunch of others.
  • Look at the goofy face on that guy... you definitely need some facial recognition to cue sounds of hordes of screaming groupies, too.

    Maybe add an automatic air-panty-launcher....
  • by rbarreira ( 836272 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @02:40PM (#14139745) Homepage
    Mirrordot video link [mirrordot.org]
  • Hopefully this will ultimately lead to something useful, like being able to translate sign language. Rather than a $20 Toys-r-us gimmick :o)
  • I doubt anybody actually wants to hear what most air guitar playing sounds like. They had better keep this thing away from karaoke machines. A deadly feedback loop might form between the two, resulting in music so bad that the waves might actually cause the planet to resonate and destroy all live as we know it.

  • This looks like a lot of fun (both building it and playing it), but it's been done [cheatcc.com] before.

    I've had a go at one of these in the local mall and they are great input devices when calibrated correctly.

  • Rock Star - PS2 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by writerjosh ( 862522 )
    Has anyone played that PS2 game: RockStar? This air guitar immediately reminded me of the game. In the game version, you actually hold a small, toy guitar that has 5 colored buttons on the neck. The screen then scrolls toward you indicating when and which colored buttons to hit. You also "strum" the strings by flipping what looks like a fat light-switch thing on the guitar. There is also an awesome wammy-bar for those deep dives.

    Then, in the background, you can see your selected guitar hero rocking out on s

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