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Video: Aerodrums bring your air drumming to life

Video: Aerodrums bring your ai...
Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
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The entire Aerodrums kit: super portable
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The entire Aerodrums kit: super portable
Design your own virtual air drumset, from a 4-piece Ringo kit to the full Neil Peart
2/6
Design your own virtual air drumset, from a 4-piece Ringo kit to the full Neil Peart
Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
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Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
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Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
Reflective pads strapped to your shoes track your footwork (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
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Reflective pads strapped to your shoes track your footwork (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
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Demonstrating the Aerodrums virtual drum kit (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
View gallery - 6 images

This astonishing piece of motion tracking software watches you play air drums, and translates what you're doing into a MIDI signal in real time. It's a simple enough idea, but the execution works astonishingly well – making Aerodrums the most portable drum kit I've ever seen!

The drums section of the NAMM music expo could easily qualify as a new circle of hell. It's absolute chaos. But deep within this maddening cacophony, I found a fascinating piece of technology that's worthy of note.

Aerodrums is more or less a drumset without the drums. You sit down with special reflective panels on your shoes and a pair of sticks with reflective mallet-like tips, and proceed to rock out on the air drums.

Reflective pads strapped to your shoes track your footwork (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)
Reflective pads strapped to your shoes track your footwork (Photo: Gizmag.com/Loz Blain)

A camera and high-powered lamp captures your foot and stick movements, and translates them with dazzling accuracy into midi drum inputs to give a surprisingly accurate soundtrack to your silent performance.

The system reads a quick stick stop as a hit, so the best technique to use is to snap the butt of the stick into your palm to create the impact – but it's sensitive enough to read gentle ghost notes as you drag your stick on an imaginary snare. Check it out:

Aerodrums: bringing your air drumming to life

It does a pretty amazing job of working out whether you're whacking an imaginary snare, tom, hi-hat or cymbal. You can configure your virtual kit to take a double bass drum if you like, and up to 5 toms.

Design your own virtual air drumset, from a 4-piece Ringo kit to the full Neil Peart
Design your own virtual air drumset, from a 4-piece Ringo kit to the full Neil Peart

The manufacturers say it's gig-ready, although it doesn't operate well in bright sunlight and strange lighting conditions can stop the camera from tracking the sticks properly. Still, plugging this compact unit into a laptop, and carrying around a pair of sticks and the small shoe reflectors would have to make this the most portable drumkit I've ever seen.

The entire Aerodrums kit: super portable
The entire Aerodrums kit: super portable

Aerodrums sells on Amazon for US$199, including the sticks, a spare pair of stick tips, the reflectors, the camera and the software to run it on Mac or PC. Oh, and a set of honky cardboard glasses in case you find the lamp a bit bright. I'm not gonna lie, I reckon this is a deadly cool gadget and I'd have one in a minute.

Product page: Aerodrums.

View gallery - 6 images
5 comments
butchholland
Pretty slick invention, Impressive and I like it.
Elilan
Saw this at the NAMM show and did a quadruple take. I thought at first the guy playing was miming to a song (??). It took me a minute, but then I realized what was going on. I tried them out and couldn't believe what they can do. Legit.
leonartis
They should add gestures or controls on fingers to maneuver doubles, triples, dynamics, etc. Once it can help a drummer to do everything he can on a regular drumkit, this has the power to render those bulky and expensive kits obsolete.
danmar
I'm trying to imagine Neil Peart with this and seeing some people in white coats coming over to take him back to the home! :-) Pretty cool stuff. Now all we need is a way to replace guitars (just a guy holding a pick!) and you can have a concert almost anywhere. I'm going to look into this because I've been looking around for a minimal drum setup as a friend told me that his guitar playing improved after playing some drums (improved his timing and sense of rhythm). This would be perfect for this and a lot cheaper.
Bruce Williams
What's the point if you're not beating on something? How else am I going to release my tension!?! ;)