Is That a Drum in Your Pants, or… No, That's a Drum in Your Pants

By Patrick Morgan | April 1, 2011 9:00 am

Some song-lovers may say that music’s in their genes. One young British boffin goes a step further by putting music in his jeans: he wears the world’s first pants-borne, playable electronic drum kit, complete with eight different drum sounds. And just so those pants aren’t lonely, another group of engineers has figured out a way to print sensors onto plastic, possibly making way for commercialized yoga mat drums (did somebody order that?) and more drums made out of things that aren’t drums.

The bloke inside the drummable jeans is Aseem Mishra, a 17-year-old British student who nabbed this year’s Young Engineer Of Great Britain award. His invention allows people to perform drum solos on their legs (video) by tapping eight paper-thin sensors sewn into the back of the fabric. The prototype must be plugged into a loudspeaker-toting backpack to make noise; Mishra says future models won’t be tied down like that.

Why would anyone create such a thing? As he told BBC News, he’s always thought that lugging his drum kit around for his band’s gigs were a hassle. “I think at the time I might have been tapping on my legs,” he explains, “and I thought, I know why don’t I see if I can put a drum kit in my trousers.”

As for the playable beach-towel-sized mat, it’s a project out of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and is made by stamping widely used gadgets called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) onto plastic. MEMS are thin machines that combine electrical components and mechanical parts, and are used to monitor air pressure in car tires, to reflect light onto film screens, and more. In this case, they’re printed onto flexible plastic and programed to emit drum sounds. IEEE Spectrum says this technology could be used “in healthcare … a thin sheet of sensors laid under a mattress could provide early warning of pressure points that could turn into bedsores. Smartphones could come with a rollout keyboard—no more fat-finger errors. With weight sensors molded into luggage handles, your suitcase …  could weigh itself and warn you that [you've] over packed before you got to the airport.”

Related Content:
Discoblog: Weird App Morphs Music to Match the Picture on Your iPhone
80beats: Amazon Gets the Jump on Apple and Google by Launching Cloud Music Service
DISCOVER: Is Music for Wooing, Mothering, Bonding—or Is It Just “Auditory Cheesecake”?
Discoblog: Rogue Performer Turns Friend’s Face Into Drum Kit—All for Science!

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