Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Senior Design

Ok, so I'm gonna make the first post about my senior design project. Not sure who I've told so far, so heres the abstract:

Electronic musical synthesizers exist in a wide variety of forms today, and many have the capability to very accurately reproduce the sounds of their acoustic counterparts. They all exhibit one major fault however; the inability to precisely simulate the mechanical interaction between the user and the instrument. Therefore we were asked to design a haptic feedback system for a keyboard with an adjustable range from a synthesizer to a grand piano. Our design will include both passive and active controls, as well as a MIDI connection to allow for future interfacing with other systems.

We will essentially using a combination of electromagnetic technology (active controller) and springs (passive controls) in order to get force feedback to the user based on velocity and position of the key. Turns out modeling a grand piano isn't as easy as you'd think it is. Pretty much impossible to predict an accurate force feedback of a grand piano since there are so many complex parts (see below). Should be pretty interesting though. We begin experimentation and design conception tomorrow.


  1. has anybody been successful at making a synthesizer sound like a person playing? Or is this completely original? Either way it would be awesome and possibly...profitable

  2. Yes, expensive synthesizers can recreate the sound output based on velocity/position of the key, but typically don't function as multi-instrument. Also, none of them accurately generate the force you feel when playing the acoustic version of the instrument. Our task is to create that feeling by integrating some sort of force feedback that is modeled off of the acoustic instrument.

    The problem is that we have to make it programmable for multiple instruments. For example, on an electronic keyboard you can usually select your "instrument" and it will play different sounds. The idea with our project is that you can select your instrument and not only will it play different sounds, but it will have an accurate feel to its playing. So if you wanted to play the synthesizer and feel practically nothing, you could. Or if you wanted to play the grand piano or organ you'd get totally different force feedback depending on which you choose.

    There is one company in Italy or something that created an electronic keyboard which mimics the grand pianos force feedback, but costs something like $20k and is the size of an upright piano. You can't change which instrument you want to play on it either. It only mimics the grand piano. So... yeah they've only sold like 1 or 2... ever. lmao yes this could be very profitable if we can make it work by the end of the semester.