Photokina 2014 highlights

Piano

The aerodynamic lines of the piano from Peugeot Design Labs and Pleyel

Just like BMW with its DesignworksUSA creative consultancy that churns out non-automotive products ranging from computer mice to bicycles, Peugeot has launched the Peugeot Design Lab with a similar bent. The first product to come out of the studio is a futuristic baby grand piano designed for French piano manufacturers Pleyel that looks like it could beat my first car over a quarter mile.  Read More

The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) system comprises a vibrating glove that connects wirelessly t...

Researchers at Georgia Tech have seen an improvement in sensation and movement in the hands of people with paralyzing spinal cord injury (SCI) after wearing a glove that helps them learn to play piano. The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) is a glove that helps them learn to play different songs by vibrating the wearer’s fingers to tell them which keys on a piano keyboard to play. The fact the improved sensation and motor skills occurred in individuals that had sustained their injury more than a year before the study is encouraging as most rehab patients see little improvement after such a period.  Read More

Portugal's Catarina Mota has created a 12-key synth with note-responsive LEDs from paper, ...

Last year, Portugal's Catarina Mota was part of a New York hackerspace team that created a toy piano made from Jell-O (and some electronics) for a competition in Brooklyn, NY. Being a lover of mixing electronics with low-tech materials like fabric and paper, she has now created a paper box that opens up to reveal a 12-key touch piano/synthesizer sporting some cool LED light action. The Piano Box is built around an Arduino Mega board running the CapSense and Tone libraries, and features twin speakers, capacitive keys made from paper-covered copper tape, and some custom code that's available for free download to allow anyone to make their own paper synth.  Read More

The new full-octave wrist-mounted finger piano

We've all drummed our fingers when impatient or bored, but the arrival of a wrist-mounted finger "piano" from Japan could change all that in a snap. It looks more like an EKG for your hand than a musical instrument but comes with a full octave of range - one note for each finger and three on the wrist unit.  Read More

Kansas City mechanical engineer Don A Gilmore has developed a self-tuning piano system, wh...

A few years ago Gibson began introducing some clever new technology to a select few guitars which automatically tuned the instrument and kept it there (seen most recently in the gorgeous Firebird X). I think that it's fair to say that robot tuning has not quite been a phenomenal success, perhaps due to the fact that tuning six strings only takes a few seconds and doesn't require any specialist training. That's certainly not true of the piano, which has more than 200 strings divided between 88 keys and its tuning is, for the most part, gratefully handed over to the experienced ear of a professional technician. In the 1990s, Kansas City mechanical engineer and classically-trained pianist Don A Gilmore created a mechanical self-tuning device for the piano. From there he went on to develop a thermal system that can bring the whole instrument to tune within a minute.  Read More

It's been a good year for musical instrument innovation - we take a quick look back at som...

The closing of the year is a great time to reflect on recent events. Regular readers will already know that musical instrument development is a bit of a passion of mine, and 2011 has been a great year for innovation. Join me, if you will, for a quick retrospective look at some of the tech we've been treated to during the last 12 months, ending with a recent take on an old classic - the Crap-o-Caster.  Read More

Ion Audio's Piano Apprentice

We recently took a look at the iPerform3D online guitar lessons for those looking to unleash their inner Hendrix, but if you’re thinking tinkling the ivories might be more your style then Ion Audio’s Piano Apprentice could be worth a look - at least for a basic introduction to playing the piano. Following the Simon school of music instruction, the Piano Apprentice features a 25-note keyboard that docks with an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone to demonstrate how to play as the relevant keys on the device light up.  Read More

Robert Majkut's Whaletone piano

The word "grand" just doesn't seem to cut it when describing this piano. Created by Polish designer Robert Majkut, the Whaletone's beautiful design evokes its sea-going namesake slowly emerging from the water and combines this with the technology of a high-end professional stage instrument in a way that's likely to appeal to both music and design connoisseurs.  Read More

The PianoMaestro learning system consists of MIDI-reading PC software and a ruler-like LED...

Like many people, I once bought myself a digital piano and had every intention of teaching myself to play. However, when faced with a very steep learning curve and the prospect of spending weeks or months learning to play a simple prelude, such thoughts were soon put to bed and the instrument sat in the corner of the room gathering dust. Had I been able to place a PianoMaestro learning system on the keyboard, things could well have been different. PC software translates standard MIDI files into musical notation onscreen, the computer is attached by USB cable to a strip of lights, and that is placed at the back of a full piano keyboard, letting you know which keys need to be pressed when. The system is said to make the learning process quicker and easier and, according to its creator, is just like having your very own teacher with you all the time, but one who has "infinite patience that does not charge by the hour."  Read More

The Mediano TV cabinet is the epitome of taste

Got a piano sitting in your house gathering dust because no one will come around and join you in a good old-fashioned sing-along? Why not give it a new lease on life by converting it into something that’s sure to get some use, like a TV cabinet? That’s just what German company Craft Line has done with its Mediano, a white upright piano that has had all its musical innards removed to make way for an LCD TV that slides out of the top of the piano at a push of a button on a remote control.  Read More

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