TouchKeys Retrofit Multi-touch Kit

Full touch system can be added to any keyboard      07/08/13


Another project recently launched on Kickstarter - this seems to be a new route to market for many nich products these days, TouchKeys is a retrofit system for any full-size keyboard or can be pre-fitted to a variety of standard master keyboard models.

The brianchild of Andrew McPherson who's been working on this for over two years at the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary College - Uni of London

What it does is give individual key control of finger position on each key - so you can slide up and down (seen demonstrating pitch bend), or wiggle L/R for vibrato - or of course assign to controllers of your choice.

For the accomplished player this seems to add a new level of expression which is hard to find elsewhere - unless you own a Hakan Continuum or one of the the new ROLI Seaboards.

If you feel brave you can either install the kit yourself, involving sticking ne key top sensors to each key and wiring up the control boards, or buy a pre-installed keyboard - currently available with the Doepfer 88-key LMK2+ master keyboard or smaller Novation Impulse (25/49 or 61 keys)

The Kickstarter project aims to raise £30k by the 2nd September 2013 with over £11k already there. Backers can choose from various configurations of TouchKeys kits and/or keyboards.

Its an interesting idea but still a basic 25 key kit will cost you around £330 even at Kickstarter prices. Check out the video to see just how expressive it can be.

Would you be prepared to stick one on your keyboard?





8 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Daniel Oakfield    Said...

Sounds like the right direction until every key will be replaced by a xy pad or even a touch screen, with visual data as well, to colour the keybed or add visual aids like which sample is mapped where, or splitting keyboard horizontally...

07-Aug-13 04:29 AM

Mattsynth    Said...

Very cool controller. I love the inverted color option on the website. Would future models have CV & gate outputs? This would work great on my Moog Voyager. Nice work guys.

07-Aug-13 06:47 AM

Synth_Fan    Said...

Fantastic concept. Physically, looks very tricky as a DIY kit. And - the black keys attachments look questionable. With fast passages, rubbing off their sides would surely introduce problems. But hope it works out.

07-Aug-13 11:30 AM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

Well, what can you say about that ? Excellent. Could it set a new standard among higher en keyboards ? Great innovation.

07-Aug-13 03:04 PM

joossens    Said...

I didn't hear anything that couldn't be accomplished with the mod wheels and touch strips that have been on keyboards forever. What this looks like to me is a poorly implemented hack of the concept introduced with the Animoog synth for the iPad. Only that was actually useful and truly innovative.

08-Aug-13 01:10 AM

Synth_Fan    Said...

@joossens: I think your criticism is hard, and actually, a little misguided.

Watch the video more closely: the left hand is playing a bass part, and as modulation is applied to the melody upper part, it has no effect on the bass part. You cannot do this with keyboards unless they have polyphonic aftertouch.

Yes, you can achieve the right hand part alone with channel aftertouch and mod wheel (though this key method looks exceedingly 'natural' - it's 'under' the fingers, so to speak).

I own a CS80 and assure you, its polyphonic aftertouch is astounding. The ability to add vibrato and other modulations to a lead line while playing accompanying pass / chords in the left hand unaffected, leads to a totally different type of performance experience.

So this has true merit. As said above, I think you are harsh in your criticism - this is very innovative surely (for keyboard players).

08-Aug-13 08:08 AM

visionary    Said...

Been dreaming of this for two decades. Yes you could try to do the same with a mod wheel or ribbon controller but it would take an extra hand. It is much more natural to do this on the keys. Garageband and other apps on the iPad already do this and it is very cool. I would be shocked if all major keyboard makers don't include this within a decade. It is a great idea.

08-Aug-13 10:03 AM

Marty    Said...

This has been done before, I played with these at last year's MESSE

13-Aug-13 06:01 AM

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