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One-Armed Drummer Returns to Kit Thanks to Amazing ‘Cyborg’ Prosthesis

This is truly mind-blowing. A professor at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, who has built robotic musicians in the past, has created a piece of technology that can allow an amputee to play drums. In fact, the inventor himself claims that “the drummer essentially becomes a cyborg.”

Drummer Jason Barnes lost his right arm below the elbow after being electrocuted two years ago. To help Barnes get back behind the kit, Georgia Tech professor Gil Weinberg equipped Barnes with a robotic prothesis that responds to muscle movement from the musician’s arm.

Even cooler, the single arm has the ability to power two drumsticks, essentially creating a musician with the capabilities of a three-armed person. Only one of the two sticks attached to the robotic arm can be controlled by the musician’s muscle movement, while “the second drumstick has a mind of its own,” explains Weinberg. The second stick “listens” to the music being played and improvises all on its own.

“It’s interesting to see him playing and improvising with part of his arm that he doesn’t totally control,” Weinberg adds. “If we are able to use machine learning from Jason’s muscles (and in future steps, from his brain activity) to determine when he intends to drum and have the stick hit at that moment, both arms can be synchronized.”

“I’ll bet a lot of metal drummers might be jealous of what I can do now,” Barnes says. “Speed is good. Faster is always better.”

Watch this incredible footage of Barnes trying out the robotic arm in the video above!

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