At the 2016 NAMM Show, Aerodrom developers introduced Aerodrums – a virtual reality Oculus Rift virtual instrument.
Developed by former researchers at the Trinity College Dublin Vision and Visualization lab, Yann Morvan and Richard Lee, Aerodrums is an air drumming musical instrument which utilizes motion capture technology to create a fully functional, customizable drumset.
Aerodrums are intended as an alternative for drummers who lack space for an acoustic or electronic drum kit, as well as for drummers who don’t want to annoy their neighbors — or even as the perfect starter kit for a young aspiring drummer who may have difficulty convincing their parents to commit to buying an acoustic drum set.
Here’s a video intro:
The Aerodrums virtual drum set system works via small reflective balls placed on the ends of drumsticks and reflective strips the user attaches to their feet. A commodity high-speed camera locks on to these strips to track the drummer’s hand and foot movements converting them to quality drum sound. The user can customize the drum set to allow for their preference of drum, cymbal and pedal configuration. In addition, they can upload their own sounds to further customize their kit, or use Aerodrums’ MIDI compatibility to interface with other music software or hardware.
The Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display developed by Oculus VR. With Aerodrums, the headset displays a fully immersive 3D experience that makes you feel like you are actually behind a traditional, acoustic drumset. Aerodrums leverages Rift’s head-tracking capability to take into account the drummer’s head position when rendering both the visuals and the audio.
“Since we made Aerodrums, I have resumed playing drums even though y drum kit is still in my parents’ garden shed. With the VR mode, I find myself forgetting that the kit isn’t actually there,” said co-developer of Aerodrums, Richard Lee.
Aerodrums allows the player to perform dynamic techniques seemingly impossible in air drumming such as double stroke rolls (two single strokes played by the same hand to create a sustained, continuous sound); ghost notes (ornamental notes played very softly between the ‘main’ notes). Even open and closed hi-hat cymbal sounds are easily played with Aerodrums with virtually no latency. Drummers can also navigate the software’s user interface using their drumsticks. The Aerodrums system is as intuitive as air drumming and uses the same coordination skills a player would need on a real kit. Aerodrums are also incredibly dynamic, sensing the velocity of the drummer’s motion allowing the player to “hit” the drums softly or loudly.
The Aerodrums kit includes the sticks, stick tips, reflective strips, light and software. The full set retails worldwide for$199, £129 and €175, and includes unlimited, lifetime customer service. The Aerodrums virtual reality upgrade will be available in Q2 2016. See the Aerodrums site for details.