Shure has shown its support for The Baton Project, an initiative to develop a new conductor’s baton that sends wireless signals to wearable vibration devices, enabling visually impaired musicians to play as part of traditional orchestras.
The manufacturer has supplied its PSM900 in-ear monitoring systems to transmit the vibration signals from the baton directly to a wearable device worn by the visually impaired musician, allowing them to receive signaling and direction for their performance.
“The Baton Project represents a huge step forward in accessibility for musicians that serves to further enrich our enjoyment of music,” said Marc Henshall, senior marketing specialist at Shure. “It is widely understood that when one sense diminishes, others often heighten. Orchestral music could soon see an influx of incredible new talent thanks to this noble project, and we think that’s an exciting prospect for the future of music.”
The first trial concert using the ‘Haptic Baton’ saw more than 50 invited audience members witness a performance from 12 musicians from the Paraorchestra and Friends in the UK and Korea’s Dominant Agency.
“The vibrations and buzzing of the Haptic Baton had a sensation that we could react to like magnesium,” said visually impaired pianist, Rachel Starritt. “All of a sudden we were in this liberating universe, connected as one unity rather than the beats providing a rhythmic obstacle that we had to face.”
Working closely with programmer and developer Charles Matthews, Vahakn Matossian built on his father Rolf Gehlhaar’s original prototype, Beat Buzz, with gesture sensitivity and a zero-latency stereo haptic response.
“All the testing has been so revealing, it either flies or it doesn’t,” Mr Matossian said. “There’s no half way. Latency is out of the question, and crystal radio transmission is the backbone. Shure has provided an unparalleled system. It really helps to work with exceptional gear. This is a world first. No conductor has ever wirelessly transmitted simultaneously to both multiple visually impaired and sighted orchestral musicians with the same baton.”