You don't need years of guitar lessons to jam like Jimi Hendrix. You don't even need a guitar! Australia s Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed the wearable instrument shirt (WIS), which uses custom sensors to turn body movements into music. Users can play air guitar by moving one arm to pick chords and the other to strum the imaginary strings (see the figure).
The battery-powered WIS consists of a wearable sensor interface embedded in a conventional shirt that uses custom software to map gestures with audio samples. It recognizes and interprets arm movements, and then it wirelessly relays this data to a computer for audio generation. No cables or microphones are necessary.
It s an easy to use virtual instrument that allows real-time music making, says Richard Helmer, leader of the team of researchers that developed the WIS. By customizing the software, the team also has tailored the technology to create an air tambourine and an air guiro, a percussion instrument.
The technology, which is adaptable to almost any kind of apparel, takes clothing beyond its traditional role of protection and fashion into the realms of entertainment and a wide range of other applications including the development of clothes which will be able to monitor physiological changes, Helmer says.
While this rockin' and rollin' is a lot of fun,, CSIRO s researchers believe electronic textiles have many practical uses in applications that require easy human-computer interfacing. They expect the technology to progress from entertainment uses to sports and then rehabilitation and medicine.