Keith McMillen Instruments has announced the K-Bow, a Bluetooth-enabled sensor bow that detects and translates bow technique and movement into control signals. According to the manufacturer, the K-Bow bridges the gap between string players and today's advances in music technology, providing these instrumentalists a new form of musical expression. The K-Bow is available for violin, viola, cello, and bass.
How does it work? The K-Bow uses multiple sensors embedded in its Kevlar/carbon fiber stick to determine performance parameters, such as motion on the X,Y, and Z axes; grip pressure; hair tension; tilt angle; and the position of the bow relative to the instrument. The data can be applied using the included software suite that takes gestural information from the data received from the bow, and uses it to process and/or control the sound from a violin, synthesizer, drum machine, or from the parameters of any other intelligent device.
The K-Bow comes bundled with the K-Tone advanced signal processor, modulation routing, and a multitrack live recording looper. It also includes the K-Bow software suite, which offers a neural network that can be trained to recognize performance gestures specific to the performer. All commands generated by the K-Bow also can be sent to a MIDI interface or as OSC (Open Sound Control) messages to control external devices. The software is open and compatible with Max/MSP and other authoring tools.
The weight and feel of the K-Bow are said to be similar to that of a fine violin bow. The K-Bow can be used with any instrument, allowing the player to use it with his or her familiar instruments. Its internal electronics are powered by a rechargeable lithium battery; the battery works for a full day before requiring recharging through a standard USB connector.
Keith McMillen Instruments expects to begin shipping the K-Bow in the first quarter of 2009, with complete systems priced at less than $4,000. For more information, please visit keithmcmillen.com.