Make gridlock more fun – put a drum kit on the steering wheel

If you get regularly get caught in standstill traffic during your daily commute, Smack Attack could be for you. Pounding your fists on the steering wheel cover’s eight touch sensors produces drum sounds over the top of whatever music you’re listening to from your iPhone’s music library. While it may look like something of a dangerous distraction, its inventor claims that it could actually help prevent accidents by keeping drivers stimulated and alert.

Gregor Hanuschak says that he got the inspiration for Smack Attack during a trip across the US, where he often found himself having trouble staying alert. He found the lack of stimulation during long drives could result in a trance-like state, but managed to keep white line fever at bay by tapping away on the wheel to his favorite tunes…

In November 2007, he filed a patent for a steering wheel-based music generation system, which was subsequently approved in 2010. A few prototypes later, and the Smack Attack RITW (Re-Inventing The Wheel) steering wheel cover is being prepared for commercial availability.

Hanuschak says that the cover will fit any steering wheel, and features eight color-coded smack sensors, each making a different drum sound when tapped. It slides over the steering wheel, is secured in place with straps and then turned on. The device is powered by a small, user-replaceable lithium battery, and communicates with an iPhone over Bluetooth. The smartphone runs an associated app that can also make other sounds available to the system, should you tire of the supplied drum sounds…

Hanuschak is set to launch on Kickstarter in a few days. A pledge of US$99 will secure a Smack Attack wheel cover and iPhone app (projected retail value of $149). Bumping that up to $225 will get you the full package, including a mini speaker and a carrying case. The campaign target has been set at $200,000 and, assuming a successful outcome, delivery has been estimated for December.

Rev up your iTune playlist of Karaoke numbers and you’re set to offer a full-blown concert to everyone else stuck in the same traffic jam. I can think of a few occasions motionless for hours on Boston’s Southeast Distressway when this would have come in handy.

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