Designed to make learning the guitar as easy as pressing buttons, the LUMIN is a MIDI-controlled electric guitar that uses a set of lighted buttons to teach you hand-eye coordination.
MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a widely accepted standard behind most synthesizers and electronic music equipment. Its basic principle is to convert physical actions into digital signals, which are then interpreted as musical notes. The LUMIN uses the same technology and implements it on a guitar, with several buttons on the neck and six string-like sensors on the body of the guitar. Press the button on the neck and pluck against the string sensor and the guitar records the corresponding note, playing it through a device like a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Unlike an electric guitar, which takes electrical signals and passes them through filters, LUMIN is a electronic instrument that creates lines of code that can then be recorded, edited, and manipulated in multiple ways.
Creator: Marcus Hsieh
Although it has the potential to be a professional performance instrument, designer Marcus Hsieh envisioned the Lumin as being more of a gateway device, helping to teach people how to play the guitar. LUMIN connects to an external gadget like a laptop that runs software with training modules similar to Guitar Hero… except these modules actually teach you how to play the guitar, guiding you through notes, progressions, chords , etc. LED lights built into individual buttons on the fretboard act as additional visual cues, helping you learn finger placement and chord formations. The lights also change color to let you know if you pressed the buttons correctly, serving as key visual feedback.
“The positive cycle of learning, practice and positive feedback allows users to improve their skills more and more,” says Marcus. “This is how video games, in general, encourage players to improve their playing skills, and learning musical instruments should do the same.”
He is not wrong, however. Video games provide strong feedback response through a much more engaging platform than real life. Channel it the right way and you can actually train the brain to learn real skills like coordination, timing, and having good reflexes. The only thing missing from this equation? A true musical ear!