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Universities in Hong Kong

Hong Kong students take air guitar to the next level with iPhone app that lets you play all day, anytime, anywhere

  • University of Hong Kong trio win first prize at contest organised by Apple
  • While another group takes second prize for app that helps visually impaired
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2018, 2:01pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2018, 2:01pm

Music lovers might sometimes find themselves wanting to strum some strings or play some riffs, but without a guitar in hand this used to mean waving your hands in the air like you just didn’t care.

Not any more.

Now, air guitarists can pluck away to their heart’s content with the innovative Air Guitar iOS application, invented by three computer engineering students from the University of Hong Kong, – Will Lam Wun-yin, Daniel Kwok Ching-fung and Alex Teoh Jian-ning.

The app allows wannabe guitarists and more accomplished musicians alike to “play” guitar anywhere, anytime, with their iPhone.

And the trio behind it won first prize at the 2018 China Collegiate Computing Contest – 3rd Mobile Application Innovation Contest, organised by Zhejiang University and Apple Inc.

The app detects the motions and the gestures of the player, transforming their actions into guitar chords, mimicking the experience of playing a guitar.

“We use the gyroscope in the iPhone to determine which string [the guitarist] is playing,” Kwok said.

Another function of the app is to play muted sounds, he added.

Kwok, who has been playing the guitar for five years, said it was troublesome to carry a guitar out when he was jamming with his friends, especially in the hot summer. As a result, he was inspired to invent the app.

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Together with Lam and Teoh, they spent two to three months on research and development.

While there are many similar apps in the market, Kwok said most require other accessories.

Users can also record the chords and the songs they play via the Air Guitar app.

Another HKU team, computer engineering students Desmond Wong Chi-ping and Felix Wong Kwong-yat, and computer science student Yeung Tsz-lok, took home second prize with the app Luminosite, which uses navigation and artificial intelligence obstacle detection technology to provide surrounding information to people who are visually impaired.

The two teams are the first from Hong Kong to win top prizes at the competition.