Technology lecturer Dylan Menzies doesn’t play the violin in the traditional sense, instead he uses software and lasers to translate the positioning, speed, and motion of a traditional wooden bow into music. His optical sensor-driven O-Bow is encased in copper with a groove for the bow. Wired reports on his solution for replicating the sound of a violin but making something easier to play:
A system that uses synthesis software to translate data sent from an optical flow sensor, which tracks the speed, motion and angle of a wooden rod in high resolution as it is moved across it. The data is used to modify music created from a hooked-up keyboard (which creates the notes and pitch), meaning a player can replicate the subtle tones of a bow gliding across strings, not just the staccato notes produced by typical orchestral keyboard effects.
Menzies has finished the fifth prototype of the O-Bow, which features a cylindrical casing design for flexible configuration and orientation, and indented grooves that are the perfect shape for bow. You can check out a short piece of footage of the O-Bow in action in the video below: