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Turn your steering wheel into an electronic drum kit

Smack Attack seeks to make your commute a wicked percussion solo.

By James_Tate Apr 23, 2013 5:49AM

You may laugh over the absurdity of having a full-featured drum kit on your steering wheel. But admit it -- we've all drummed inside our cars, even when we think no one is watching.


Inventor and self-proclaimed nerd Gregor Hanuschak thinks that plenty of people will want to jam out with his new invention, the Smack Attack.


Hanuschak, a graduate of MIT, Stanford and Harvard, certainly has a heck of a résumé, so we got him on the line for some Q&A.


"I got the initial inspiration for Smack Attack while driving across the U.S. from Philadelphia to Silicon Valley," he told MSN Autos. "Although for the most part I was getting a good amount of sleep every night, I still often had trouble staying alert at the wheel.  I later learned that there is a term for what I was experiencing: 'highway hypnosis.' Experiencing highway hypnosis firsthand inspired me to design something to fight it and keep drivers alert."


We half agree -- you're definitely more likely to stay awake while playing the steering-wheel drums, but alert? That would probably depend on performing a killer solo.


Opinions aside, the system is pretty innovative. It’s a wrap that snaps onto your steering wheel (just like the one from Autozone you have now with the flames). Around the rim are eight customizable pads, each correlating to a different drum effect. The pads are pressure-sensitive, so the harder you drum, the louder the sound.


You can control the effects through your phone and even drum on top of songs in your music library. The sound, which is transmitted via Bluetooth from the steering-wheel wrap to a connected iPhone, is then broadcast via FM transmitter to the stereo. Or you can use the tiny speakers provided.  

 

 

 "The version being offered through Kickstarter is for the iPhone," Hanuschak said, "but if we surpass our $200,000 goal, we are definitely looking to make both an Android version and a cost-effective standalone version which doesn't require a smartphone." Check out a quick video to see the system in action.

 

As we suggest above, we can’t speak to the safety implications of such a device, but the entertainment value -- oh, the entertainment value! Hanuschak said that if the project is successful, the Smack Attack will retail for $149. The project is on Kickstarter with 35 days left to meet its financial goal of $200,000. At the time of this posting, it’s received just $1,331.


Could you be the drummer it needs to get off the ground? (Nick Mason, this would look great on your 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.) We'd be shocked if these drum kits take the world by storm, and if they did, we'd be even more surprised if they weren't banned for distracted driving.

 

[Sources: Smack Attack, Kickstarter.com; Photo: Smack Attack]

5Comments
Apr 23, 2013 6:29AM
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Completely stupid. Your vehicle is not a game or a musical instrument, it's a transportation device that has the ability to cause death  when being used while not paying complete attention to your driving. This is just one more thing to get you to take your eyes off the road while you are adapting to it. I bet your insurance company will just be thrilled. Dozing off while driving? Pull over and take a nap. Now there's a great invention.....the nap!
Apr 23, 2013 12:41PM
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Of all things to turn into a drum, the part that controls the vehicle's direction of travel?? No thanks.
Apr 23, 2013 1:25PM
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It is just plain nuts, no matter how many degrees the inventor has.
Apr 24, 2013 9:34AM
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If he can afford to graduate from Harvard, Stanford and MIT, $200k should be a drop in the bucket.
Apr 23, 2013 2:41PM
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It seems like it has potential but $149 seems a bit much for what is mostly a gag gift, like no one is going to go and buy themselves something that makes driving less safe, though I imagine it may be beneficial for those long drives. Tell you what, if they make it, I'll add the product to this handy dandy iPhone accessory list ( bit.ly/1276NrW ).
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