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This Electronic Artist Controls Synths With His Mind

Bertolt Meyer is a professor of psychology and a diehard musician hobbyist with an impressive knowledge and collection of modular synths.

Oh, and he happens to be missing much of his left arm.

Meyer wears myoelectric prosthesis which allows him to control fingers on the robotic arm via signals passed through electrodes on the end of his arm. The white hand and fingers look like something straight out of any cyborg-driven sci-fi movie.

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But while the prosthesis is impressive and a huge leap in improving his abilities, it doesn’t yet match the sensitivity and precision of his right hand. Thus, he still experiences difficulty when attempting to control the small knobs of a modular synth. This presented a problem for the professor, who is also a DJ-slash-techno producer.

With assistance from engineers at KOMA Elektronik, Meyer devised a circuit that takes signals from his left arm’s electrodes and translates them into control voltage (CV) signals. These signals can alter a synth’s pitch, filter, effects values, and many more parameters.

Check out Meyer’s explanation and demonstration of his skills below. When I first saw him rotate his wrist a full 360 degrees, I gasped. Even knowing that “Of course a robotic limb isn’t restricted to the range of motion of flesh and bones,” the visual still caught me by surprise. So it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a world where Bertolt is able to control synths faster than any able-bodied human with just his mind.