Dylan Menzies uses synthesis software and optical sensors to replicate the sound of a bow moving across the strings.
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: