I came to the course from a mechanical engineering background since I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives and could not see much potential for that in my previous field. I enjoyed the course and being able to learn new design skills with classmates from all sorts of walks of life.
Learning a new instrument can be difficult in the early stages when a student needs more feedback to keep them right. For this reason, I started working on a project which would later become the FretFriend.
The device gets fitted to the fretboard of a stringed instrument and connects to a screen to give the user real-time visuals of what they are doing. This means that they can check that they are holding the right chords without having to split their attention between a sheet of music and their fretboard. Using the screen in this manner allows the learner to get more confident in their fingering and build up their muscle memory playing the instrument.
Additional functionality has been considered which would allow the FretFriend to be used for fingering practice without the use of the instrument, meaning a user could take the device on public transport during a commute and practice chord transitions and handling using their phone for feedback.
The instrument used in developing the product was a four-stringed ukulele, but simple modifications can be made to the design to make it suitable for instruments with more strings, such as an acoustic guitar. Other considerations have been made for left-handed users as a change in orientation may be required for the device meaning that the inputs from the user would need to be inverted.