Like his dad, he was a musician and had been since he was a child
While his dad played the guitar, Jason played the drums. So, it was with a heavy heart that after a half dozen surgeries, Jason was forced to agree with his doctors that his right hand needed to be amputated.
That should have been the end of Jason’s musical history. But, after he returned home from the hospital, Jason taped a drumstick to the bandage on his stump and started drumming again. Later, Jason created his own prosthetic arm in an attempt to be able to play the drums better. He was accepted into the drumming program at the Atlanta Institute of Music in 2013.
Gil had been developing robotic musicians–robots which ‘listen’ to music and improvise an accompaniment to go with the music which is being played. Jason’s curiosity got the better of him, and he emailed Gil to see if they could work together.
They collaborated and created a robotic drumming arm, a myoelectric unit which relies on Jason’s muscles and grip, but also ‘listens’ to what Jason is playing with his other hand and what other musicians are playing, and improvises. So, the arm ended up having two sticks–one which is controlled by Jason, and the other, which either composes or is controlled by the compositions which are fed into it.
Now, Jason has started a kickstarter fund, so he can not only have a portable bionic drumming arm, but also be able to go play on tour with other musicians–which, because of Georgia Tech’s current policies, he currently isn’t able to do.