Visual automated transcription of piano music – innovation from Imagine Cup!

Visual automated transcription of piano music – innovation from Imagine Cup!

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Beethoven inspired two masters students at the University of Lethbridge to come up with a new solution to the challenge of automatically transcribing piano music. In this post they talk about their project and winning the Innovation category of the Canadian Imagine Cup.

ClaVisionScreenshotWhat category did you enter in the Imagine Cup?

We entered the 2014 Canada Microsoft Imagine Cup Innovation Competition, a contest for the best new innovative software. Actually, this category is a good opportunity for those who have new ideas for implementing software innovations.

What is your project/idea?

Our software claVision is a completely new way to perform automatic piano music transcription by visually analyzing the piano keyboard, without having any audio of the played music. This idea was inspired by the famous composer, Beethoven. By the last decade of his life, he was almost totally deaf, forcing him to rely on the visual relationship between his fingers and piano keys. claVision simulates what a deaf musician like Beethoven does. It can be used on any kind of musical keyboard. It can also be used as an educational aid for students learning to play a piano. You can see a short video demonstrating their software here.

Who is on your team?

ClaVisionTeamPhoto Team claVision includes two members: Mohammad Akbari and Hossein Naseri, along with mentor Dr. Howard Cheng, from the University of Lethbridge. Mohammad is a Masters student in Computer Science. He is working as the team manager, image and video processing expert, software developer and music expert (pianist) of the team. Hossein is currently a Masters of Science student in Physics. In the team claVision, he is working as an expert in mathematics and audio processing. Dr. Howard Cheng is a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in University of Lethbridge.

 

Why did you enter Imagine Cup?

Last October, the geekStarter program from Alberta Innovates Technology Future hosted an information session talking about the Microsoft Imagine Cup, which made us interested in this competition. So, after the suggestion of our team’s mentor Dr. Howard Cheng, we found this competition as an amazing opportunity to present our innovative software claVision.

Did you think you would get this far when you entered?

We knew our software was a new technology for solving an old problem. However, because it was our first competition of this kind and we were not aware of the other competitors and their projects, we did not expect to be selected as the winner of the 2014 Canada Microsoft Imagine Cup Innovation Competition. So, when we heard this fantastic news, we got totally surprised.

What do you think you did really well with your project?

There are some significant points making our software stand out. Unlike other similar products that perform automatic music transcription by “listening” to the music, in claVision, the audio of the played music is ignored. As a result, many of the drawbacks of existing transcription techniques from audio are no longer present. Both live (real-time) and recorded video processing can be handled by our software accurately. claVision has a number of other useful applications such as automatic improvised music transcription, piano education especially for hearing-impaired people. Moreover, after analyzing the demand for automatic music transcription, we have designed a business plan to get claVision to the market.

If you were starting over again from scratch what would you do differently?

Thanks to this competition, we are more experienced than before. We think if we had this experience at first, we would have thought about the business aspect more instead of just the technical side.

What’s next for you after Imagine Cup?

After this competition, we are planning to get claVision to the market. So, we want to consult with technology transfer experts on steps to commercialize our software product. Additionally, we have some other interesting ideas that we are interested in presenting them to this Microsoft Imagine Cup next year.

What advice would you share with a student who is thinking of entering Imagine Cup?

Microsoft Imagine Cup as a global student technology competition is the best opportunity that every student may have in their lives to present new ideas to the world. If you are looking for a great opportunity helping you achieve your success, do not miss it!

What’s next?

Team claVision now advances to the world semi-finals. During this stage they will be judged against the other Canadian category winners (Innovation, Games, and World Citizenship) and against other entries in the Innovation category from around the world. Ten innovation teams from around the world will be selected to attend the World Imagine Cup finals this July in Seattle. In June, we find out which of the top three Canadian teams will be selected to represent Canada at the world finals. Good luck team claVision!

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