What is the Virtual Air Guitar?

04 2006

What is the Virtual Air Guitar?

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Playing air guitar is like playing rock guitar, only without an actual instrument, or musical skills. It is, in fact, not about playing an instrument, but putting on a wild show. Anyone can play air guitar - all you need is some music to play along to. But up until now, you've been restricted to following existing music.

The Virtual Air Guitar is a project developed at the Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory and the Acoustics Laboratory of the Helsinki University of Technology, and was finished in March 2005. It is an entertainment device that lets users have fun in the spirit of air guitar. It is not an expressive instrument that you need to spend years learning how to play. Anyone can play air guitar, so everyone is able to play the Virtual Air Guitar as well. All you need is a pair of orange gloves and a rock'n'roll attitude. The goal is to provide people without musical skills the chance to experience the fun of playing and creating music, and to expand their concept of listening music to experiencing it.

History and partners
The Air Guitar project has many different fathers. Certainly the idea of having a playable air guitar is not a new one. But this particular one started some time in 2002, within the ALMA project. ALMA was an EU-funded project with international partners: Milano Polytechnic University, the Acoustics Laboratory and Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory of the Helsinki University of Technology, Erlangen-Nürnberg University, and the Generalmusic company. The project itself contained research on physical sound models, user interfaces for them, and a unified framework for their construction and communication. The project spanned three years, from 2001 to 2004.

In the ALMA project, the role of the Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory, under the lead of Prof. Tapio Takala, was to develop user interfaces for these virtual instruments. One interface concept was, naturally, an air guitar. The early version was based on an acoustic guitar sound, and played more like a Theremin than a guitar - yet it was still incredibly fun.

At the same time, the Acoustics Laboratory was also developing a version of the air guitar, from the perspective of the sound model. In 2004, the efforts were combined, and development started at TML on a webcam interface for the Stratocaster sound model from Acoustics. The software behind it all was based on the framework developed earlier in the ALMA project.

The Finnish science centre Heureka had already been interested in displaying results of the ALMA project in the Music exhibition that was scheduled to open in March 2005. The Virtual Air Guitar fit this concept perfectly, and the project now had a client as well as another partner. Heureka helped design and construct the physical stage on which the Air Guitar was displayed, and provided the necessary equipment: computer and accessories, camera, TV screen, lights, and a truckload of orange gloves.

After the science centre version was finished, work began on bringing the technology to homes everywhere. Cartes, the Computer Arts centre at Espoo, Finland, funded research for a consumer version for the second half of 2005. Currently, the original development team is starting up a company to bring the air guitar to the consumer market.

The Image and Sound Processing Group (part of the Signal Processing Research Group) operates within the Section of Telecommunications of the Dipartmento di Ingegneria Elettronica e Informazione (DEI)

ISPG focuses on signal processing for a variety of multimedia applications. Its research interest range from computer vision to microphone array processing, to sound synthesis, audio rendering and scalable video coding. The applications of interest are on mixed realities, ambient intelligence, high-end sound generation, processing and rendering, and on multimedia coding.

ISPG’s fields of expertise

Image analysis and computer vision for ambient intelligence, mixed realities and 3D modelling
Multimedia coding
Sound analysis, synthesis and rendering

Prof. Stefano Tubaro
Prof. Augusto Sarti
Research Personnel

Dr. Marco Marcon
Dr. Andrea Dell’Acqua
Junior Researchers
Ing. Giovanni De Sanctis
Ing. Marco Foco
Ing. Gabriele Scarparo
Ing. Luca Piccarreta
Ing. Pasquale Pigazzini
Ing. Giovanni Dainese
PhD Students
Ing. Fabio Antonacci
Ing. Davide Onofrio
Ing. Marco Tagliasacchi

Source by Redazione

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