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Air Guitar

December 26, 2005

Scientists in Finland have turned the fantasy of air guitar into a reality.


An air guitar that really rocks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[Audio: Air guitar]

This rendition of "Smoke on the Water" may not be brilliant, but it’s pretty good for an air guitar. The virtual guitar is the brainchild of computer scientist Aki Kanerva and his colleagues at the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland. To use it, you just slip on a pair of gloves and step in front of a camera.

AKI KANERVA (Helsinki University of Technology, Finland):
And you take a rock guitarist pose, as if you were holding an imaginary guitar, and then just rock away.

The camera tracks the movement of one hand along the imaginary fretboard and the strumming of the other. The information is sent to a computer that turns the gestures into riffs and licks. And while Eric Clapton’s job is probably safe, the system is giving average Joes a chance to feel like rock gods.

[Audio: Air guitar]

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.