Gadget Lust? Down with Upravlator; Give us Chumby!

The blogosphere this week is all abuzz about the supposedly desire-inducing Upravlator. The awkwardly-named hardware comes from Art Lebedev, the mysterious designer who first promised the Optimus Keyboard, a unique “design concept” with tiny color displays under each key. That indeed sounds cool, but instead, after months of delays and promises, the shipping product turned out to be the Optimus Three, with three little displays that double as buttons. Full keyboard with displays: interesting. Three display buttons with no real function: erm? Instead of spending about US$150 on an Optimus Three, why not a Nintendo DS Lite? Which do you …

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Optimus Mini Three Unwrapped: Can I Get An Amen?

I don’t think they’ve done it just to spite Peter and CDMu readers, but not 3 days after the “is it vapourware” conversation, Thinkgeek have unboxed the first step towards Optimus. It’s still not yet shipping, nor OSX or Linux compatible, and not really in the realm of truly useful gear ($169? How about a whole second or third 17″ monitor?), but it’s exciting news nevertheless. This device isn’t anywhere near the interaction leap of the multitouch demos we’ve been seeing, or even that daft “desktop metaphor enriching” thing, but it’s still extremely exciting that one of these thought experiments …

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Lemur 1.5 Multi-Touch Interface Adds Easier Configuration, Virtual Knobs

Lemur 1.5 was announced today, bringing some significant improvements to this unique multi-touch display/control surface. Specifically, this update addresses a number of complaints about Lemur, including some I voiced in my review for Keyboard Magazine: Easier mapping: MIDI and even OSC assignment was a bit of a chore in the existing Jazz Editor release, partly because it required multiple clicks to get to MIDI assignments, in particular. The new editor always has MIDI and OSC assignments visible in a tab, and there’s a new custom MIDI object for more complex, multiple-output assignments. More templates, reusable components: While JazzMutant hasn’t released …

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Magical Plexiglass Touchscreen Instrument with 1000 by 1000 Grid

Poor Monome, with just 64 buttons. Back in the 90s, Nicholas Fournel (who just sent us his MIDI tablet software) built a massive plexiglass touch-screen instrument called the Semekrys. Two of them were sensitive to a 1000×1000 grid. (Okay, not quite the same as 64 buttons, but then this is transparent and looks absurdly cool even in an age with more touchscreens.) Proof that the search for expressive touch interfaces is still an ongoing one: Semekrys

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Dualing Reviews of Lemur Multi-Touch Control Surface

The Lemur multi-touch touchscreen controller is the rare kind of product that breaks entirely from convention, raising fundamental questions about how we make music. It’s comforting in a way, then, to see disagreement about just how well the finished product works. After over a year of buzz, detailed in-practice reviews of the Lemur are emerging, including my review for Keyboard Magazine, and Jonathan Segel’s review for Electronic Musician. The two reviews reach somewhat different conclusions. Neither review gives an unqualified endorsement, but both see promise in the device — just different promise. And I have to ask a question: are …

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Potential Musical Uses for Origami / UMPC

I’m still partial to saving up cash for a full-featured, full-sized tablet, but in case you haven’t been watching discussion on my last story on the new Ultra-Mobile PC platform, there are some interesting musical uses for a portable tablet: Portable notation: This one’s the biggie. The UMPC is more than capable of running notation software, and with

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Mobile Music Computers: Tablets Good, Origami Bad

Did you opt for a laptop over a tablet when you bought your latest mobile PC? You can’t really be blamed. Tablets tend to offer less performance for the money, and hit the middle or worse overall on key audio benchmarks like processor speed, hard disk, and I/O. But you’ve also missed out: unlike a laptop, a tablet can fit comfortably on a music stand. It’s easier to tote from one part of your studio to another. It’s the perfect way of entering music notation or tweaking soft synths, with instant access to the interface. So, great news: Microsoft, Intel, …

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Windows Day: Microsoft Working on Touch Interfaces, Too — For Vista

Imagine touching a screen to directly control Live, Reason, Reaktor, and Max/MSP while you’re playing, with a full view of the interface. That’s been possible with tablet PCs for some time, but not with a touch-centric interface. While the Mac faithful have been drooling over a vague Apple patent for touchscreen interfaces, no one seems to have noticed that Microsoft is planning to build this interface into Windows Vista. Microsoft’s Jim Allchin, head Vista honcho, told Paul Thurrott: “We’re now supporting touch control in addition to electro-magnetic,” he told me. “We’ve done a lot of innovations here. As you know, …

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Multi-Touch Touchscreens for Music: More Reflections

Reflections, indeed, since last week we saw a music/multimedia interface based on a camera tracking system called Frustrated Total Internal Reflection. (Sounds like an apt description of some of our undergraduate college years?) Futuristic musical interfaces could take a radically different direction from what we’ve seen so far, and that distant future may be close — really. But let’s clear some things up:

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Multitouch Interfaces of the Future: More Expressive, More Flexible

There was a time when skeptics thought mice would never catch on. “People will never give up their QWERTY keyboards,” they said. They were half right: now we take both for granted. Now, more experiments in multi-touch interfaces are appearing by the day. Aside from mysterious Apple patents, we have, via We Make Money Not Art, new research in multi-touch interactions from a team led by Jefferson Han. (Demos pictured.) This isn’t just any touchscreen: not only does it recognize multiple fingers as inputs, but it projects whatever imagery you want in response, enabling new, fluid interfaces, and even responds …

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