Synths are nothing new, of course -- so what makes Roli's digital piano so novel? The instrument has a patent-pending rubberized surface that lets you bend and twist the keys as you play, freeing you from fiddling around with knobs, so you can directly, physically affect the way it sounds. Think of it as the difference between bending a string on a guitar, rather than stepping on the wah-wah pedal. It's the sort of thing you really have to see in action to appreciate -- thankfully, we've got the instrument's creator Roland Lamb giving us a demo after the break.
Roli Seaboard Grand hands-on
According to the musician-turned-CEO, the keyboard is really just the first step for a technology that can be incorporated into all manner of devices, helping to add a level of tangibility that's so often ignored in modern digital instruments. In the meantime, we're admittedly quite taken with what this prototype is capable of. In its final version, the keyboard will look a bit different, though the top will continue to be mostly bare, depending instead on that wheel to change between instrument, pitches and the like. The final version also won't require a tethered computer, though you'll be able to hook it up to one, in order to further customize the instruments.
Roli's opening the SDK to developers for even more unexpected updates. The team is also looking to get the thing in the hands of musicians for more feedback -- we could even see the instrument playing a role in some future hip-hop productions. In the meantime, we're still awaiting more information like pricing and availability, which Lamb has promised to share with the world sometime in the near future.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.