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Who hasn’t found themselves at some point among a group of friends, singing and making music with whatever was at hand, even your own body? That’s what happened to California’s Tyler Freeman, a 30-year old computer scientist.
“I’m a musician, like most of my friends. We were in the living room, making music by drumming on our jeans,” he says. That was when he had the brilliant idea of creating a device that would produce a real sound when tapped. It was 2006.
Eight years later, DrumPants became a reality. After a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that raised $74,000, the first deliveries took place in August 2014. The basic version sells for $99.
This wearable technology consists of flexible sensor-studded strips that can be worn both under and over clothing, and inside shoes. It attaches with either Velcro or straps. Added to these are a micro-USB key, an audio output and a Bluetooth-connected control box carried in a pocket. Legs can become cymbals, knees a snare drum and feet a bass drum. The combinations are endless; the device comes with more than 100 pre-recorded virtual instruments. DrumPants can also be used to control such other applications as video games and websites.
The first prototypes were built using an Arduino board. The DrumPants team designed the newest version, which includes a smaller custom-designed chip, but the application can still be used in projects that incorporate other Arduino boards.
Freeman is already thinking ahead. “We’d like to develop a whole platform for wearable technology. DrumPants are our first product, but we’d like to create others, letting people control all their devices from their body.”
– By Benjamin Keller. With Thomas Pfefferlé and Sara Bandelier