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Smarthead Innovations develops drumhead with printed sensors

Tuning acoustic drums is a time-consuming business. A digital drumhead, with printed sensors that record the vibrations, could provide a solution. But such sensors are also useful when the drums are being played: they monitor the drumhead vibrations and the force and position of each strike, enabling drumming to be digitalised. To investigate the feasibility of a solution involving printed sensors for its smart drumhead, developer Smarthead Innovations sought assistance from Sirris.
  • Tuning acoustic drums is difficult and time-consuming
  • Monitoring drumhead vibrations offers a solution and enables digital drumming 
  • Smarthead Innovations is investigating the feasibility of printed sensor technology


Product developer and drummer Bram Van den Broeck is working with Smarthead Innovations to market his smart drumhead with embedded printed sensors. As product development manager for musical instrument distributor EMD Music, he has already developed a range of products for the  music industry. He is now taking that business forward and expanding it internationally from his Ikonoblast Design Studio.

“During the feasibility study, the technological risks were identified and a measuring system devised to capture and process sensor data. This was then developed into a demonstrator to convince potential investors.”

Smart drumheads for digital drumming and tuning

Printed sensors in the digital drumhead record vibrations, strike force and strike position without affecting the sound. This makes tuning easier and also enables digital drumming. For the feasibility of the smart drumhead concept to be assessed, work was needed on several fronts: What would be the best sensor design? Which printing technique would be technologically and economically feasible for mass production? Which algorithms would be required to process the signals? And what electronics could meet these requirements within the cost limits?

Feasibility of Smarthead sensor technology

Sirris’s experts mainly contributed to designing the system and analysing the different printing techniques. For the electronics development, they worked closely with a foreign industrial partner specialising in printed electronics, while Flanders Make was involved in defining the algorithms. 

A measuring system featuring printed sensors and an electronic module with embedded algorithms enabled an evaluation of both the overall concept and its component parts. A separate Mechatronics 4.0 conversion study then examined in more detail the feasibility of algorithms in an embedded application, resulting in a technology demonstrator.

Towards a market-ready product

For the smart drumhead concept with printed sensors, both the tuning application and the various digitalisation applications were evaluated. The measuring system and demonstrator enabled Smarthead Innovations to approach potential investors with a view to further developing the technology.