Prosthetic Robot Arm Meets Drummer Jason Barnes: GA Tech’s Third Stick

Written by Gina Smith

GA Tech debuts the prosthetic robot arm it developed with amputee drummer Jason Barnes. Barnes has two sticks he controls. The third thinks for itself. — Drummer Jason Barnes lost his arm as a result of an electrocution injury. Luckily, it wasn’t long before the drummer met researcher Gil Weinberg of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). The result of their collaboration was a prosthetic robot arm — giving Barnes a third drumstick that they claim “thinks for itself.” Check out the video below to see it in action.

The tech relies on electromyography sensors. There’s one drumstick on the prosthetic arm that Barnes controls. Essentially it picks up muscle movement from his upper arm, to which it is attached. The third stick acts independently. Its tech includes a mic and an accelerometer. It picks up on what Barnes and the band are playing and then it beats out a rhythm that complements it. The arm officially debuts at the Atlanta Science Festival on March 22, 2014. Georgia Tech reps say Barnes will be there playing — along with various musical robotic creations from Weinberg.

Video: Georgia Tech YouTube Channel

For, I’m Gina Smith.

Gina Smith is the New York Times best-selling author of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s memoir, iWoz Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It (W.W. Norton, 2005/2007/2012). With John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle, she is the editorial director at Email her at, check out her Google + stream here or follow her @ginasmith888.

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