The beauty of robotics is not only the creativity involved, but the ability it has to allow people recovering from life-changing accidents to transition back to normal life.

An article in the New Scientist describes the story of Jason Barnes, a young drummer who lost his arm below the elbow while working at a restaurant. Through meeting Gil Weinberg, the founding director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, and working with a drum instructor, a robotic arm was developed that would help Jason return to drumming. The arm was just completed recently, and will make a debut in concert at the Atlanta Science Festival on March 22nd.

According to the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology site, the prosthesis features two drumsticks that can play at different rhythms. One drumstick responds to cues from Jason’s upper body, as he contracts the stick responds to cues from upper arm muscle contractions and electromyography signals. The second stick has a “musical brain” and improvises to play with the other to create rhythm.The synchronization technology allows the second stick to play with the first as it receives cues from muscles that the first stick is about to hit the drumset. An embedded chip controls the speed of the drumsticks, which is what allows the sticks to play at two different rhythms.

Jason Barnes will debut this prosthesis on March 22nd. Read the New York Times press release and see the video below:

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