Making Things Interactive

January 30, 2008

idea 01: guitar… with lights!

Filed under: 2: Term Project Idea,Gaku Sato — ponkotsu @ 2:01 am

For my very preliminary final project idea, I was thinking about embedding LEDs and pressure sensors under each fret of each string.  The lights could indicate the proper fingering for a note or chord or maybe entire song tabs in memory.  The sensors would pick up the chord being played and save those in memory for review or analysis via computer.  I’m wondering if it would be possible to indicate the actual fingering (as in which finger) instead of just the fret?  And the lights would be color-coded by string.  The strings would also have LEDs & sensors to indicate/detect when played.  Maybe it could even indicate if it’s to be played as an up- or down-note or muted or by which finger (if no pick).
Jet pointed out that it would be helpful for instruments like fiddles where positions aren’t defined by frets, and in dealing with infinite scale it may be possible to use [finger] skin conductivity on a sensor surface that ran the length of each string to detect position.
I like this idea (and will probably use it if successful) except for the fact that it’s a guitar just with lights and sensors.  I’d really like to make something that’s either very entertaining or very interesting, maybe both.  What would really be fantastic is if I could make a hollow mechanical robot hand that I could wear like a glove that would interface with a guitar and position my hand appropriately.  But mimicking the human hand to that degree would be incredibly difficult, I think.
I’d still like to make something physical/mechanical.

ps. please forgive me for any incorrect guitar jargon or music terminology.  i just don’t know them.


1 Comment »

  1. surely can be done – a better version of the guitar hero input device – rough draft would be switches and LEDs, one per fret; but indeed, either use a 3-color LED to code which finger, or multiple LEDs on each fret one for each possible finger. (I’d look at what is available already, and also if the idea is to somehow assist learning, look at how elementary guitar guides indicate chord fingerings). Might actually be better to just show the fingerings on a chart on the guitar body (NOT at the appropriate frets). pressure sensors for the frets should not be too hard although those sensors are a bit pricey at ~ $10 each; could make a cheap homemade version with conductive foam.

    and yes, for a fretless instrument, could probably run a resistance wire down the neck. The robot hand thing could be quite the technical challenge, but how about a glove (or something you wear) that touches, or vibrates, or squeezes your fingers to let you know what to do?

    Comment by mdgross — January 30, 2008 @ 10:27 am | Reply

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