Creating people's geographies
Sydney Morning Herald | November 13, 2006 – 2:00PM
CSIRO scientist Dr Richard Helmer shows off his wearable instrument shirt which enables users to generate guitar sounds by moving their arm.
It’s called the WIS – the Wearable Instrument Shirt – and it is tipped to make the air guitar as obsolete as the horse and cart.
Scientists at the CSIRO’s Textile and Fibre Technology division in Geelong have woven electronic sensors into a T-shirt so that it can be played liked a real guitar.
Movements by the wearer’s arms are mapped and beamed by radio to a computer which interprets them and turns them into musical notes.
The wearer only has to act out playing the instrument to make sounds.
“The left arm chooses a note and the right arm plays it,” said Richard Helmer, a CSIRO chemical engineer who led the project. The arrangement can be reversed for left-handed musicians.
“You can play with yours hands above your head,” said Dr Helmer. “You can turn around and jump. Whatever you like.”
Exactly when the WIS could be on the market is not certain, but the CSIRO has already taken out patents and Dr Helmer has started work on a business plan for its commercialisation.
While Dr Helmer believed the market for the WIS could be enormous, the real objective was to let the public glimpse the future of intelligent clothing being devoped by the CSIRO.
People wearing shirts with sensors could operate computers and play computer games without ever having to touck a mouse or a touch pad.
Intelligent clothes could create 3D replicas of physiotherapy patients to help teach them to walk and bend again after injuries.
Patients could even be examined by specialists in another city or country. And electronic clothes could even be used to teach people to play golf or tennis.