Everyone at one time or another has cranked out a beat by slapping their hands on their thighs. One person who obviously feels the rhythm deep in his soul is software designer Boris Smus, who has taken thigh slapping high-tech with his Ubiquitous Drum Pant DIY project that turns an ordinary pair of jeans into a drum kit.

The prototype Ubiquitous Drum Pants system consists of two square force sensitive resistors (FSRs) located on the knee of each pant leg that are hooked up to an Arduino device and a breadboard that sits inside the front left jean pocket. The wires connecting the FSRs and the Arduino run up the pant legs and are held in place with electrical tape. Every time a pad is hit the pad ID and force of the impact are relayed to the laptop through a serial port on the Arduino. A Python program listening on the serial port then synthesizes sounds corresponding to the data using the pyserial and pygame modules respectively.

In building his Drum Pants protoype Smus has identified a few limitations that need to be addressed. Firstly the current prototype requires a PC to synthesize the sounds, which obviously hinders portability. Smus says that he plans on retrofitting the Arduino with a Wi-Fi shield that would allow the system to communicate with any Wi-Fi capable synthesizer, such as an Android phone.

Also, because the system is built entirely into a pair of pants it isn’t transferable to other items of clothing. To address this Smus plans to enable the pads to communicate with the Arduino device wirelessly. Converting the pads into self-contained transmitters would allow them to be placed anywhere he says. Smus believes this would open up a wide variety of applications, such as placing the pad onto a pair of shoes to simulate a kick or hi-hat pedal. Personally, I like the idea of placing a pad in the seat of some pants so a drum sting plays every time I sit down.

Aside from public transport users looking to entertain (or annoy) fellow passengers, Smus says the Ubiquitous Drum Kit could be perfect for drummers not wanting to go to the hassle of transporting their heavy and unwieldy kits to a jam session, or just someone looking for something to act as a stand-in for a full drum-kit for quick, impromptu jamming. But he’s overlooked one potentially huge market. The system has the potential to revolutionize the lucrative one-man band sector.

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