Imagine if you could play the drums, without a drum set, by manipulating sounds through the air. That’s exactly what you can do with the AirSticks – an electronic gestural instrument that allows the user to convert movement into sound.

By exploring different hand movements, you can trigger, manipulate, and morph sounds to create something truly unique.

Think modern day Theremin meets a DJ midi pad.

This innovation is the brainchild of two musicians who wanted to create a new way to make music. After meeting in 2003, professional drummer Alon Ilsar and software engineer Mark Havryliv made, tested, and tried prototype after prototype in order to create an instrument that blurs the line between music and technology.

They explored wearable technologies, different interfaces, and worked through many prototypes, eventually settling on gaming controllers about four years ago.

The Razer Hydra gaming controllers use high precision magnetic motion sensor technology (magnetic fields) to determine the exact location and orientation of the controllers in your hands relative to the sensor hub. Mark was able to hack the software and change the code, transforming the gaming controllers into an instrument. Paired with motion-controlled visuals that are projected on a screen in front of Alon, he is able to create performances that are not just an auditory experience, but a visual one too.

Now that the Razer Hydra controllers are no longer commercially available, Mark and Alon have applied their knowledge from their PhDs in instrument and sound design to make their own product. To create something both unique and user-friendly, they are working with a hardware engineer and using rapid-prototyping technologies such as 3D printing to help realise the AirSticks’ potential.

The team have long ago surpassed their original vision for their innovation, and are now pushing the Airsticks well beyond the performance music sphere. Mark and Alon have used their instrument in musical therapy workshops to help Alzheimer’s patients, and have collaborated with dancers, visual artists and other musicians to push the boundaries of what the Airsticks can achieve.

This technology is not only making electronic music a more accessible medium, but is creating a space where we can all be a bit more creative.

Are you combining two diverse worlds through technology? Let us know your story.

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