“Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.”
Those are the words of the one-and-only Elvis Presley. But, unfortunately for all those wannabe Elvis’ out there, Rhythm also takes practice — and can be one of the most tedious parts of being a professional musician.
Bands have to play for hours in front of obnoxious click tracks to ensure they can be on beat when it comes time to perform live.
To solve this problem, a Hong Kong-based hardware startup named Soundbrenner has developed a vibrating watch-like wearable that vibrates to the rhythm and can help with both practices and performances.
Soundbrenner announced today it has raised US$1.5 million to pursue the next stage in product development and pursue market expansion in 2017. This means investing the money in R&D, retail distribution and entering the music education industry.
The company is currently working on the second-generation hardware product and is improving the accompanying software.
“The new funding gives us the opportunity to research into new technologies and applications that we can be used to improve the Soundbrenner Pulse and our companion apps. We are excited to use the resources to work on new products to connect musicians together, taking rhythm into the 21st century,” said Soundbrenner Co-founder and CEO Julian Vogels in a statement.
The product, called Soundbrenner Pulse looks like a watch (and can be placed on one’s upper arm or ankle depending on the person’s preference. It then generates a pulsing vibration like a metronome that delivers the desired beat.
The wearable can vibrate at an amplitude of 6G — about six-times as strong as the average smartphone. If that sounds intense, think about it, the product needs to be able to be useful during a concert. It would be practically impossible to feel a smartphone vibration while trying to perform in front of a crowd.
But don’t worry, for those one-on-one piano lessons, the vibrations can be turned down.
It can also be adjusted by turning the dial and actually has a ‘safety’ feature that ensures it never turns on if that is desired.
It’s also designed to be tough — it is resistant to sweat, can take some beating and has a band that is very easy to remove/replace.
Entering the music education market
For Soundbrenner, taking the Pulse to the music education market is a clear next step. For students, a vibrating wristband may be easier than trying to focus on keeping time via a traditional metronome while focussing on what notes to play next.
“We constantly receive feedback from customers saying that this new form of rhythm experience has really helped improve their time keeping. We believe that the Soundbrenner Pulse can bring great value to music students through performance feedback, rhythm practices and better guidance from teachers,”said Soundbrenner CEO Florian Simmendinger in an official statement.
In December 2015, the company raised a US$500,000 round to facilitate its February 2016 launch.
The company is an Alumni of the Hong Kong-based IoT accelerator Brinc and has raised US$240,000 in an Indiegogo campaign that is fulfilling its orders.
The software has been downloaded over 150,000 and features Ableton Link — another metronome software. Including Ableton Link makes it easier for bands and musicians to keep the Soundbrenner Pulse integrated into a larger digital music workflow.