The Actuated guitar: Implementation and user test on children with Hemiplegia

Larsen, Jeppe and Overholt, Dan and Moeslund, Thomas

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

People with a physical handicap are often not able to engage and embrace the world of music on the same terms as normal functioning people. Musical instruments have been refined the last centuries which makes them highly specialized instruments that nearly all requires at least two functioning hands. In this study we try to enable people with hemiplegia to play a real electrical guitar by modifying it in a way that make people with hemiplegia able to actually play the guitar. We developed the guitar platform to utilize sensors to capture the rhythmic motion of alternative fully functioning limbs, such as a foot, knee or the head to activate a motorized fader moving a pick back and forth across the strings. The approach employs the flexibility of a programmable digital system which allows us to scale and map different ranges of data from various sensors to the motion of the actuator and thereby making it easier adapt to individual users. To validate and test the instrument platform we collaborated with the Helena Elsass Center during their 2013 Summer Camp to see if we actually succeeded in creating an electrical guitar that children with hemiplegia could actually play. The initial user studies showed that children with hemiplegia were able to play the actuated guitar by producing rhythmical movement across the strings that enables them to enter a world of music they so often see as closed.