CSIRO, Australia’s scientific research agency, has developed a shirt that could give hope to air guitarists everywhere. According to the agency, the ‘wearable instrument shirt’ (WIS) “enables users to play an ‘air guitar’ simply by moving one arm to pick chords and the other to strum the imaginary instrument’s strings.” “Freedom of movement is a great feature of these textile-based interfaces,” said Dr Richard Helmer lead engineer of a team at CSIRO Textiles and Fibre Technology that conducted the research. “Our air guitar consists of a wearable sensor interface embedded in a conventional ‘shirt’ which uses custom software to map gestures with audio samples. It’s an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music making — even by players without significant musical or computing skills. It allows you to jump around and the sound generated is just like an original mp3.” The WIS works using textile motion sensors embedded in the shirt sleeves to detect motion when the arm bends. The data is then wirelessly relayed to a computer which generates sound.
“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,” he says.