Liverpool startup develops smart musical instrument set to revolutionise the way we learn music

Posted 22nd October 2018
4 minutes read
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Liverpool startup Arterfacts has pioneered a smart musical instrument that provides an innovative way to learn, play and compose music, with support from the Activate programme.

Using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the instrument allows users to play keyboard, string, percussion and wind instruments through its attached touch-screen, mouthpiece, and by changing its position.

The device displays graphics of keys, strings and symbols which can be modified and configured depending on which instrument the user would like to play. When playing violin, for example, the instrument can be held under the user’s chin and the screen will display musical notes and strings that the user can “bow”. When playing piano, the instrument is laid flat and the screen will show musical notes along with a row of different keys.

Arterfacts, which was founded by primary school teaching assistant Tom Clarke, was given the tools and technology to develop the instrument through the Activate programme. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the project helps companies in the digital and creative sector grow using emerging technologies.

The programme saw Arterfacts work closely with Dr David Tully from the computer science department at project partner Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to take the smart instrument from concept to reality. 3D printing software was used to create a prototype of the device, in order to develop it further and make it as comfortable to use for the user as possible.

Arterfacts was also given access to software that enabled it run and develop the instrument’s digital operating system to refine any functionality problems.

Tom Clarke, founder of Arterfacts said: “From young children to adults working in performing arts, this product gives anyone that loves music the option to have several instruments at their fingertips.

“Our mission at Arterfacts is to provide creative solutions for creative problems and, with support from Activate and LJMU, we’ve been able to do just that. The support has been invaluable and we wouldn’t have been able to get to where we are today without it.”

Jonathon Clark, business and technology manager at Activate, said: “Arterfacts has successfully taken a creative idea and developed into its first ever product as a limited company.

“This is a truly revolutionary device with lots of potential and we are thrilled that Activate has been able to help another creative startup get its innovation off the ground.”

Looking ahead, Arterfacts will be developing a mobile-app to work alongside the instrument that will provide further creative elements, such as musical coaching and playing against friends in game like scenarios.