Sony Music Entertainment, a participant in the World Yuru Music (Loose Music) Association, has recently unveiled its innovative “Ultra-Light Sax,” a groundbreaking instrument designed to make the joy of saxophone playing accessible to all, regardless of musical skill level.

I didn’t know before coming to CEATEC but the Sony Group has committed to incorporating “inclusive design” as a company standard earlier this year, according to Nikkei. The approach invites individuals with disabilities and the elderly to be involved in product planning and development. 

The quality standards will include features that cater to disadvantaged persons (15% of the world’s population has some form of disability). For instance, remote controls will have text labels for color differentiation. By fiscal 2025, hundreds of Sony products, such as TVs, cameras, and smartphones, will meet these new standards. Sony will also expand its team focused on accessibility from three to nine members.

Let’s go back to the World Yuru Music Association. It is a project aimed at democratizing the pleasure of musical engagement. One of the barriers for many people to get involved with musical instruments is the steep learning curve and technical skills required. Sony’s “Ultra-Light Sax” addresses this issue head-on by eliminating the need for complicated key operations altogether. 

What sets the “Ultra-Light Sax” apart from traditional saxophones is its unique mechanism to produce sound. Instead of employing keys and breath control to create different tones, this instrument converts humming into saxophone sounds. That’s right—no need to touch any part of the saxophone to play it. All that is required is the ability to hum a tune.

The innovative technology powering this instrument is Sony’s SPRESENSE™, a board equipped with a smart sensing processor designed for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. SPRESENSE comes with high computing power capable of enabling edge computing.

Using edge AI processing, the board processes the performer’s humming in real time, extracts the pitch, and converts it into the saxophone sound for output. This ensures that the instrument is not just easy to use, but also responsive in translating the hummed tune into saxophone music. When I tested it, the experience was fun and enjoyable. Perhaps it’s just me, but I had this “guitar hero” moment.

According to Sony, The “Ultra-Light Sax” presents numerous possibilities:

  • Accessibility: This instrument is especially appealing for those who have always wanted to play the saxophone but were deterred by the perceived difficulty or the time required to learn it.
  • Education: It could serve as an educational tool for introducing students to music without the intimidation of complex instruments.
  • Therapeutic Uses: Its ease of use could make it a candidate for music therapy, where patients can engage with the instrument without the stress of mastering a traditional saxophone.
  • Entertainment: Professional musicians may also find the “Ultra-Light Sax” intriguing as an auxiliary performance tool, opening new avenues for creative expression.

The Sony “Ultra-Light Sax” is an innovative step in making music more accessible to people of all ages and skill levels (with or without disabilities). By leveraging modern technology, Sony Music Entertainment and the World Yuru Music Association aim to bring the joy of playing musical instruments to a broader audience.

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