Monday, August 20, 2007

Air guitarists’ rock dreams come true

Remember all the times you've heard a great guitar solo being played and you wished you could play like that. And you'd even try to an imaginary guitar in your hands and imagined the tune being played in your hear. Well now there's a solution to it, it might actually work! I present to you the Air Guitar.

Aspiring guitarists can make their own guitar solos - without ever having to pick up a real instrument, thanks to a research by some Finnish computer science students.The Virtual Air Guitar project has been developed at the Helsinki University of Technology. It adds genuine electric guitar sounds to the passionately played air guitar.It uses a computer to monitor the hand movements of a "player"; the system adds riffs and licks to match frantic mid-air finger work.

By responding instantly to a wide variety of gestures, it helps even the least experienced air guitarist to be the next slash.The resulting system consists of a video camera and a computer hooked up to an appropriately loud set of speakers. A player then needs only to wear a pair of brightly colored gloves in order to start. Computer vision software automatically keeps track of their hands and detects different movements. The Finnish team created a library of guitar sounds based around the pentatonic minor scale – a progression normally used for rock guitar solos – in order to create the right sound for their virtual instrument.

As a player moves their left hand along the neck of their virtual guitar, the computer will run through the scale. Holding it one place while strumming frenetically produces fret board tricks such as hammer-ons – where slapping a finger onto an already vibrating string produces a higher note – and blues bends, which give a distinctive rock twang. And a floor pedal can also be used to switch the system into mode that plays several different chords. However, it requires a little work. The project is currently being demonstrated at the Heureka Science Centre in Finland where it has been played more than 5000 times over the last month. As a follow-up, the researchers are working on a version that will be compatible with a normal webcam and computer, thus giving wannabe rock stars the opportunity to practice their art in the solitude of their bedroom.

Update: system in action .. see the video !

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