Light-up grids of buttons are nearly commonplace, but the BlipBox is something different: its array of lights is also a sensor, making it both X/Y controller and light-up grid. And it’s designed to be completely open — firmware, hardware, schematics and documentation are all fully GPL-licensed and open source.

For those of us who aren’t ninja coders, it’s also easy to customize, thanks to friendly software (pictured below) .k for making nifty interactive animations on its display and support for the artist-friendly Processing code environment. As the creators describe it, it’s three (three!) pieces of hardware in one:

  • a creative tool and musical instrument
  • a large, high definition x/y controller with visual feedback
  • a uniquely versatile MIDI and OSC controller

Lest you assume such oddities as this come only from non-musician hackers, these are designed by musicians. The project, built right in London, is available in fits and starts and stock becomes available, but a recent run was “Prices are GBP 140 for a complete ‘box with USB and MIDI interface, and 9v external power connection, in a black aluminium case with perspex side panels.” (To the team: apologies for giving you splashy publicity right as you have precisely none in stock. Readers, follow @cdmblogs on Twitter for updates. Or just follow their site:

BlipBox News

Side note: yes, we need to stop putting “blip” in the name of things. Guilty as charged. (I’ll be writing soon about the Blippo Box, which is … completely different.)