Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Bionic Flute Finger

By Steven Wasser

Innovations sometimes come like a lightning bolt from the sky, but more often are the result of a sustained, disciplined approach to testing ideas.  At Powell we know that each flutist blows differently and touches the flute keys with differing pressures.  In order to control variables like these we develop tools and techniques that come to close to replicating the “typical” flutist, but also allow us to accommodate other playing styles.

Powell is currently investigating the quality of the seal between pads and tone holes.  In order to conduct the necessary tests we developed a simple “bionic finger” that close a key with pressure that is equivalent to finger pressure and also comes from the same angle as a flutist’s finger.  The device uses a series of weights on a shaft which approach the flute key from a tangent position.  We add weights until the key closes securely then we total the amount of weight required.   

The bionic finger device does not result in an innovation, but allows us to test other ideas that could well improve the quality of the flute.  Stay tuned…

The "bionic finger" aims to replicate human finger pressure and position.

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