Mixing Knobs with iPad Touch: Liine Griid + Livid Code Now Available (and Core MIDI for Griid, Too)

Users of Ableton Live, among other tools, have a dilemma. A touch display like the iPad is really good at simple triggering and interactive displays – navigating Live’s grid of clips, for instance. It gives you visual feedback without having to hunch behind your laptop, and it makes seeing (and touching) clips far easier. But it gets fairly clumsy when it comes to manipulating mixer levels and effects: there’s no physical feedback for what you’re doing, and it’s too easy accidentally jump between values or bump the wrong mixer channel. Physical knobs and other controls are perfect for mixing and …


Syntact is a Futuristic Gesture Interface That’s Tactile – Without Touch

Here’s how interfaces normally break down. You’ve got your conventional, tactile interfaces, like a knob. You’ve got your touch interfaces, which lack tactile feedback (you touch them, but they don’t push back). You’ve got your gestural interfaces, which have you waving your hands in the air without touching anything and without any tactile feedback. (They’re generally the most challenging, because your brain has no feedback for what it’s doing.) Syntact creates an entirely new category. It’s a gestural interface, of the “waving your hands around in the air” sort. But while your hand is in mid-air and isn’t touching anything, …


Tangible Music: The Reactable and Interactive Instrument Design, in Videos

Dig into humanity’s past, and alongside the earliest tools, you’ll find some of the earliest instruments. Designing objects for expression seems to be an essential part of civilization. Martin Kaltenbrunner, a co-designer of the Reactable tangible music interface, is also a professor in Interface Culture at the Linz University of Arts in Austria. There, in the land of Mozart and Haydn, he works with students to explore what interface design is. So, when I got to spend some time with Martin in New York in September, I was interested in more than just the flashy coolness of the Reactable, the …


Tactile Touch: Evo Keyboard to Marry Touch Expression, Conventional Keys

A new design launching this week should appeal to keyboardists who want both more expressive touch control and a keyboard – without sacrificing one or the other. Yes, yes, multi-touch on tablets does indeed give your fingers access to continuous control for added expression and pitch. But there’s a reason keyboards evolved keys: tangible feedback about where pitches are, and the ability to control dynamics with pressure (itself with additional mechanical tangible feedback) just isn’t matched by touchscreens. We’ll be looking on an ongoing basis at how you can take the flexibility of those touchscreens and match them with more …


3D Touch Linnstrument, an Update: New Features for Roger Linn’s 3D Note Expression Controller

The latest iteration; image courtesy Roger Linn Designs. Moving beyond touching a screen as two-dimensional plane, Roger Linn’s concept music controller, the Linnstrument, adds tactile response and expression. Roger calls it “3D Note Expression,” but in lay terms, it means pushing harder on the controller makes it respond differently, as you’d expect from a physical instrument. Roger this week posts an update on how his development is going and what he imagines – good timing, as this week we also saw another design on the same lines, the Soundplane. The sensing methods are different, enough so that I can easily …


Sequencing with Smart Interactive Blocks: Siftables at TED

David Merrill, working with Jeevan Kalanithi and (for the audio engine) Josh Kopin, wowed audiences at the TED conference with his Siftables interactive blocks. These strike me as what the Audiocubes have tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to be — physical objects that react to the proximity of other objects, allowing you to manipulate music and media by moving around tangible blocks. Siftables are gifted with multiple expressive controls (tilt helping them break the plane of the surface), and intelligent screens that make them more adaptable and provide more visual feedback. The music sequencer is very cool, though I think it’s actually …


Intimate Control: Multi-Touch, New Models, and What 2009 is Really About

Multitouch Prototype 2 from Randy Jones on Vimeo. 2008 has been an amazing year for music technology. But I can’t bring myself to look back on it on this New Year’s Eve: not when there’s so much to look forward to in 2009. Case in point? An extraordinary, innovative new controller that in a matter of hours was already spreading among connected music technologists around the planet. At the end of the day, it’s not hard to describe what you might want out of an expressive music controller. Most people would agree on that. The challenge is really an engineering …


Touch that Touches Back: Haptic Feedback Could Make Touch Interfaces Better

Making interfaces more transparent … literally, in this clever shot by Steve Roe. Touch and multi-touch interfaces are getting lots of attention, but they pose one major problem: there’s no tactile feedback. Those supposedly “primitive” buttons and knobs and such start to look a lot better when you realize your fingers are used to touching solid objects. All you get from a touchscreen is the sensation of running your finger against an undifferentiated piece of plastic. That was one of my complaints with the multi-touch music interface, Lemur: it just felt physically wrong. As more and more interfaces employing touch …