Guitarion - Mechanical Pick for Hemiplegics
Guitarion is a mechanical string "picker" that allows hemiplegics, people with unilateral (one side of the body) paralysis, to play the guitar with just one unaffected hand.
Guitarion is still being developed at Chiba University's Graduate School of Engineering in Japan, it is cheer up guitar players that suffer hemiplegia, allowing them to once more make music with their guitar through a mechanical "right hand" contraption.
The current version of Guitarion lets you control the mechanical picking hand via a foot pedal. The concept behind this gear is straightforward, the foot pedal has six color coded switches that trigger the mechanical picker or what the designers call "solenoid". The solenoid plucks the strings as you would with your picking hand while the unaffected hand handles the fretting job.
According to the presenter: "Basically, all that happens is the solenoid is moved up and down using DC power. But we're using a microcontroller for the switching. This isn't an alternate switch, it's a momentary switch. By using a microcontroller to work a momentary switch like an alternate switch, we control the strings so they move in one direction only, rather than back and forth each time you switch."
Here is a video of the Guitarion in action from DigiInfo TV:
The designers hope to make Guitarion a portable and detachable gear that you can apply to various guitars. The solenoid part should be able to automatically accommodate the various string placements of popular guitar shapes.
There are a number of limitations on the current design, but if this would go commercial, the designers are looking to add complicated strumming and picking patterns. I'd say they should consider adding pick attack and dynamics to the control.
This is certainly a welcome invention and is something that can help hemiplegics as they go through with their condition.
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