Virtual Drum Kit

Bernie Birnbaum

Play the drums without waking the neighbors!

With just a few gems you can practice and jam with a fully functional drum kit, and not make a noise.

Promotional video for the Virtual Reality Drum Kit

The Virtual Drum Kit was developed in Unity by Bernie Birnbaum, an intern at Gemsense, utilizing four of Gemsense’s Blue Amber gems.

Users are able to play the drums using two gem-equipped drumsticks and one gem fastened to each foot. The movement of the drumsticks is determined by the rotation of the associated gem about all three axes whereas the movement of the bass drum and hi-hat pedals is determined by rotation of the associated gem about the X axis.

The default drum kit features:

  • Bass Drum
  • 10″ and 12″ Tom-Toms
  • Floor Tom
  • 14″ Snare
  • 13″ Hi-hats
  • 18″ Crash Cymbal
  • 13″ Ride Cymbal

A further eight pieces are supported behind the scenes, but are not yet available for use.

To Assemble

Obtain two sticks (or stick-like objects) and attach a gem to the bottom of each stick using glue, tape, or whatever creative means you devise. Ensure that the stick is perpendicular to the face of the gem, with the battery positioned as the lowest part of the stick. Fasten one gem to the front part of each foot (again using tape, a rubber band, or any other means) with the battery flat on the shoe. Gems must be switched on and in range in order to play! (In Windows it is necessary to pair the gems with your computer via bluetooth in advance.)

To Calibrate

Hold each stick upright with the charging port facing to the right, rest both feet flat on the floor, and click/tap anywhere.

To Change Settings of Drums

Hold the tip of one stick within the drum you wish to adjust. After a moment of hovering, dropdown menus will appear for any settings applicable to that drum.

My name is Bernie Birnbaum and I am currently interning at Gemsense. I was born and raised in New York City and am a student at Tufts University near Boston where I am earning a BA as a Computer Science major. I have extensive experience in programming from my time at Stuyvesant High School in NYC and at Tufts, but this project represents my first foray into the Unity platform and programming in C#. It is also my first significant extracurricular programming project.

Inspiration for the project arose from my love for music. I often find myself air drumming along to my favorite songs or tapping out a beat on the table, but never had a way to further this minor passion without purchasing a proper drum kit, taking lessons, and waking half the neighborhood. To remedy this I have developed this virtual drum kit which uses Blue Amber gems to make casually fooling around on the drums a much more accessible experience. One unintended consequence is that I have learned more and more about the drums in the process of emulating them virtually!

The next phase of this project will be to port as much of the experience I have already created to virtual reality as is possible.


Bernie Birnbaum

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