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Alternative, Ergonomic Music Keyboard Designs Suit More People

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Christine Schmidt

Additional Presenters:
Anita Riddle, Sierra Schmidt, Karson Spencer
Undergraduate students are creating innovative designs for electronic music keyboards that suit more people and offer better ergonomics. This collaborative project, originally contrived and led by a music student, motivated engineering students to contribute to designs, marketing, and presentations. This is one of two unrelated projects by this undergraduate student research group. A standard piano keyboard has 88 keys laid out in a flat plane. Many pianists practice hours per day and suffer from repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, some compositions are unplayable for some people if their hands are too small. Just as with computer keyboards, alternative shapes of keyboards could help musicians who suffer from carpal tunnel. Alternative sizes of keyboards have been produced; however, they are simply a scaling down of the current keyboard design. In this project, students worked together to design alternative geometry of musical keyboards to fit more human hands and to provide better ergonomics. Students first studied keyboards details of Yamaha digital pianos. Digital piano sounds do not come from a hammer hitting a long string, as they do from conventional or “acoustic” pianos. Digital piano sounds result from sophisticated music sampling and computer modeling. Because a digital piano has no hammers nor strings, there are fewer restrictions on the design of the input device. New keyboard designs in this project include angled and semi-spherical shaped input devices to play a digital piano, MIDI controller, or synthesizer.
University / Institution: Salt Lake Community College
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #B91
SESSION B (10:45AM-12:15PM)
Area of Research: Inter-disciplinary
Faculty Mentor: Nick Safai