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Specdrums: Music on my finger

Specdrums: Music on my finger

By Udita Shukla

Drumming your fingers has never been so much fun. With Specdrums, you can now create music through fingers. Literally. It enables you to channel your inner rhythm that plays out incessantly in your mind. You may be standing in a queue, or sipping coffee by the glass window on a rainy evening.

An ingenious, new invention

Specdrums is a smart ring that operates with a co-running app on one’s smartphone (running on iOS/Android).  It creates musical notes as fingers are tapped onto various colour patches. The ensemble varies the sound as the colours vary. The app features a wide spectrum of options to customise the sounds as per one’s whims and fancies. Consequently, the system furnishes a wireless, mobile symphony in one’s pocket – always on the go.

The innovators behind Specdrums are two former Cornell students, Matt Skeels and Steven Dourmashkin, who came out with the current version a few prototypes later. The original system, Freedrums, was developed particularly for drummers so that they could enjoy their passion anywhere, anytime. Steven Dourmashkin says, “I was determined to create the most portable drumming machine, capable of turning my taps into real percussion sounds”. Evidently, the motivation behind this ‘music machine’ was a humble idea to quench a drummer’s craving, but at the same time, it is seemingly mature enough to identify an untapped market opportunity.

The product has already qualified the beta-testing stage and is scheduled to be launched soon in the market after its volume manufacturing at Kickstarter. Currently priced at USD 34, the makers intend to rack the cost up to USD 39, once the initial stock is done with.

An entirely new dimension

The device essentially employs a tap-activated LED in the ring which lights up and returns RGB (Red Green Blue) values to a colour sensor over Bluetooth. These values are then tallied with digital sounds integrated into the app’s music library which then retrieves the sound.

To add to the fun element, the makers have empowered users to use multiple rings simultaneously wherein one could generate a symphony just with a sequence of taps. Additionally, volume control can be exercised by manoeuvring the angle at which the coloured object is tapped at, sharper angles decrease the volume and vice versa. The smart ring app comes loaded with customisable features such as colour-sound pairs that can be saved for swift recalls, and are also shareable on social media.

Like every other electronic device, Specdrums also need the energy to keep the show going and are capable of delivering an over-two-hour performance after a thirty-minute recharging time.  

Being a digital contraption makes Specdrums open to varied applications via Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). MIDI is basically a protocol employed for playing and recording back music on digital synthesisers. Further more, the rings can be integrated with advanced music software like GarageBand, Ableton Live among others and raise music creation to an entirely new dimension.

A potential market disruptor

The rings score high on the innovation index. If marketed and distributed properly, the product is poised to bring in a lot of return on investment to its makers. The product can very well be offered in bundled packages in addition to standalone pieces. To that end, the available package of ten Specdrums costs USD 349, which is, unfortunately, a little exorbitant.

In order to fully harness the business potential of this novel product and capture the market, the team needs to price them right while dispensing any glitches in the app’s performance, durability and battery life. The product may even disrupt the market of toy pianos for kids and open the door to a new domain of innovation and technological possibilities.

Specdrums presents an intriguing case study of human behaviour and how its understanding can be translated into an untapped monetary opportunity. The urge to don one of these tiny music bands reflects the unique relationship we share with music as humans and how it speaks differently to every individual. Perhaps, the universal selling point of Specdrums is its technological simplicity and, yet the diversity and possibilities attached to the product.


Featured Image Source: Pexels

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