Kerrang! T-shirt boost for bedroom air guitarists

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The Independent Culture

It is the hidden vice of almost every teenage boy and quite possibly more than a few adult men; a furtive activity that normally takes place in the bedroom. But for those with hidden ambitions to become gyrating, leather-clad rock gods, it fulfils a dream - if only in front of the mirror.

Now help is at hand from scientists in Australia who claim to have invented the ultimate air guitar accessory: a T-shirt which allows the wearer to play guitar without having to use a real instrument.

Using motion sensors built into the elbows and wireless technology, the T-shirt relays arm movement back to a computer, which then creates various guitar-like sounds. The somewhat awkwardly named "wearable instrument shirt" (WIS) will use the left arm to choose the note and the right arm to play the rhythm.

"It's an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music making, even by players without significant musical or computing skills," Dr Richard Helmer, who led the team of scientists behind the ultimate axe-grinding garb, said. "It allows you to jump around and the sound generated is just like an original MP3."

The team have also used the same technology to create an air tambourine and an air guiro (percussion instrument) meaning in the not too distant future, bands may well have the option of discarding their instruments altogether and relying on state of the art clothing instead.

The latest invention is not the first time scientists have delved into the tattooed, spandex-clad world of air guitar. Last year, Finnish scientists unveiled the Virtual Air Guitar project, a similar system that used motion sensors in gloves and enhanced computer software to replicate guitar sounds and chords.

But many air guitar traditionalists are yet to be convinced by the hi-tech inventions. "In the past two years, or so, the air guitar industry has become really quite commercialised," Jeffrey "Disaster", the founder of the UK's Air Guitar Championship, said, adding that the plethora of air guitar albums was evidence of the commercial interest in the phenomenon.

Asked whether air guitar contestants would give up the spandex and string vests for a simple T-shirt filled with technology, the competition's founder replied: "Absolutely not. Really this is a completely worthless piece of consumerism that will be filling landfill sites next year. But I imagine quite a few Seventies and Eighties rock fans will get one as a Christmas gift.

"The whole point of an air guitar competition is that there is no guitar involved and this would probably count as an instrument."