Assistive technologist invents 'auto saxophone' for disabled musicians

Matt Daly, Seashell Trust's assistive technologist, work on ideas for the saxophone with Seashell Trust student Samir Ahmed

Assistive technologist Matt Daly has been chosen to invent a new instrument for disabled musicians in just FOUR weeks.

Matt, who works in College, has been awarded £700 to develop a 'breathless auto sax', a saxophone played by switches and compressed air for our student Samir Ahmed.

Samir, who already sings in the College rock band, cannot play a saxophone because among his disabilities he has a lack of breath and difficulty feeling with his fingertips. He would also struggle with position of a conventional sax.

Matt's design will go up against three other teams' musical instruments, tools or innovative piece of music at the DMLab Challenge launch in Manchester on Saturday, April 29.

He will then have just one month to complete a working prototype before presenting it at the final showcase in front of an audience of music fans and tech enthusiasts.

Matt, 32, from Cheadle Hulme, said: “It is quite an ambitious task because there are some complications with getting sound out of the saxophone. I've had several goes at prototypes using 3D printing then an air compressor with mixed results. We are working on Samir using a foot pedal to change notes. It will be fantastic to get a working prototype that he can play when performing in the college rock band.”

Greg Davies, music tutor at Seashell Trust, said: “The idea behind Samir having the saxophone was it would allow him to improvise over any piece of music in the right key which could be programmed into the instrument.”

The design will face stiff competition from portable and bespoke controllers for sound art and live mixing, an air keyboard and an electric wheelchair one-man band powered by self-sustaining eco-power sources

Daryl Beeton, of disability music tech organisation Drake Music which set the challenge, said: “It is an opportunity for disabled musicians to explore bespoke technology to further develop their music and technologists to work on a challenging live brief with a creative collaborator.

“We're really excited to share the boundary-pushing work of the partnerships with and hope you will be able to join us to celebrate their success.”

The event will also feature disabled artist-technologist Kris Halpin performing using motion-tracking MiMu gloves.

Register to support Matt and the other hackers and inventors at the fully accessible International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, M1 5BY: Launch: Saturday, April 29, 2-3.30pm here. Showcase: Saturday, May 27, 2-3.30pm here.