Haptic Baton Lets Blind Percussionist Perform In Orchestra
Kyungho Jeon is a blind virtuoso percussionist from South Korea who would love to play in an orchestra one day. However, because of his blindness, he has been told that he cannot since he cannot see the conductor. When Rolf and Vahakn, a team of father and son who build musical instruments for people with disabilities, heard about Kyungho’s desire to play in an orchestra, they decided to help.
The two inventors created a baton that could possibly a game changer for blind musicians. The haptic baton, held by the conductor, works with a pair of bands worn by the musicians on their right and left thighs. These bands have vibrators in them. As the conductor waves the baton, the vibrators sense the movement, pitch, roll and striking, and vibrate accordingly. As the conductor switches from left to right, so does the vibration. In the end, what we see is seamless communication between the conductor and musicians without the need to see the conductor’s movement, and uninterrupted music being played in unison by everyone.
The haptic baton was tested rigorously by Vahakn and Rolf, and also used in a private performance for a small audience. The team of musicians that played in this The result, can be seen at the end of the video below.
Where else do you see this sort of haptic baton being used besides in an orchestra? Let us know in the comments below!
So interesting! I wonder if there is a conceptual learning curve for those who are congenitally blind – as they’ve never seen a conductor’s baton movements.
Interesting indeed! My thought is that someone who is congenitally blind does not even need to understand how a conductor’s baton moves. They would just be trained on understanding the haptic vibrations they get from the modified baton, and play the appropriate notes.