Have you ever noticed how intense it looks when you see someone play the violin? It’s definitely involves much more skill and finesse with speed, motion, and pressure than just dragging and pulling a bow across a series of strings. But if you don’t have that kind of time to learn the ins-and-outs of violin playing, Dylan Menzies’ easy-to-play optical O-Bow might be right down your alley.
In the place of strings, the O-Bow is made primarily of a smooth copper cylinder with a dented groove made to hold the bow as it’s dragged across like a normal violin. The illuminated optical sensor located at the bottom of that groove tracks the speed, position, and angle of the bow, which then allows for different notes to be played. The sensor also indicates and produces the vibrato effect that most (if not every) stringed instrument is known for.
Like many digital instruments, the custom software on the hardware’s backend manipulates various violin samples in real time to match what’s being played. Similar to an MIDI keyboard (thanks Rock Band 3), the O-Bow can also be utilized as an interface for an ENTIRE symphony of virtual instruments. As of now, the O-Bow is only a research project, yet Menzies hopes to one day commercialize the O-Bow and soon you too can master the violin without the hours and hours of practice.
Speaking of practice…
[Thanks New Scientist]