The Lemur's was spotted at this years NAMM where information was scant and there were only a couple of prototypes. However, it did get a few people rather excited. The Lemur is a very interesting device. Essentially a controller working over simple CAT5 network cable, it features a built in processor running a graphics engine and a touch screen. What does this mean? Well, for starters, you can create an on screen interface that responds to your fingers - knobs, sliders XY pads and all manner of other gizmos. The touch-screen is actually polyhonic, so you can manipulate as many objects simultaneously as you have fingers for. The result is then turned into a stream of numbers which can be used to control MIDI devices for instance. Beginning to get the picture. It's sort of hard to explain, that's why we shot Cycling '74s Jeremy Bernstein in action.
Lemur has a simple graphical editor that runs on a host computer for designing interfaces - these are then uploaded to the Lemur unit and stored in presets. The data that Lemur returns to the computer needs to be translated into MIDI language by a small piece of translation software Cycling '74 are working on this and expect to see translators for the major sequencer packages coming along fairly soon.
Jazzmutant, Lemur's developers say emphatically "LEMUR is NOT a MIDI device. It includes a built-in100 BaseT Lan interface which can be directly linked to the host computer ethernet port. The protocol used to exchange data is OpenSoundControl (OSC). Compared to MIDI, OSC is much more efficient, convenient and reliable. Among other advantages, OSC has the following features : 32-bit precision, no additional hardware interface, no latency, simple specification and easy setup. And lastly, several LEMUR and computers can be linked together using a basic hub." - Ok got it.
Currently, the Lemur interface designer only uses it's own graphical language, but talking to the developers, they see the benefits from enabling custom graphic elements to be used. So we could see a screen similar to our favourite softie running on the Lemur touch-screen sometime soon. It has to be stressed that though Lemur is an exciting product, it's still in early production and may be some time before we could see this technology at the heart of our computer music setup. Another point is the price, at around 2000 EUROS it's going to be beyond the scope of many of us for now. But just imagine a time where you could have a couple of them running your bank of software plugs, synths and sequencer. I'm already saving up...