The last time we covered Miselu was during Google I/O 2012 when we took a second look the Neiro Android-powered synth. Fast forward a year and the company's shifted its focus on a completely new product -- the Miselu C.24 wireless music keyboard for iPad -- which is launching today for $99 on Kickstarter. The device is a high-quality two-octave (24-key) collapsible music keyboard designed to be a magnetic iPad cover when stowed. It features Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, micro-USB connectivity and a sealed Li-ion battery which provides 5-6 hours of operation.
As such, it's compatible with any Core MIDI iOS app and any OS X, Windows or Linux software that supports MIDI over USB. The C.24 integrates a capacitive ribbon divided into two areas -- eight buttons with four LEDs each on the left (octave selection by default) and a linear controller on the right with 32 LEDs (pitch bend by default). Miselu plans to ship the product with a companion iOS app in time for the holidays. We briefly played with a prototype and came away extremely impressed. Hit the break for our first impressions and hands-on video / interview. %Gallery-193358%
What's special about the C.24 wireless music keyboard is that it magically unfolds from a compact 242 x 185.7 x 9.9 mm (basically the size of an iPad) to an expansive 242 x 201.3 x 28.5 mm. This enables a decent amount of key travel and allows the slightly narrower keys to be long enough for comfort. Another unique aspect of the device is that each key is sprung using anti-polarity magnets instead of metal or plastic springs. It gives the keys a wonderful semi-weighed feel which surpasses anything we've experienced with other mini-keyboards. This alone puts this product in a league of its own.
Each key is tracked via an optical sensor and delivers MIDI velocity and monophonic aftertouch data. The iOS app bridges the gap between Bluetooth and Core MIDI and manages configuration presets. Miselu's collapsible music keyboard is also expandable through open hardware modules (for additional controllers such as knobs, faders, sliders and X/Y pads) which slot above the capacitive ribbon and will be available in the future. The device comes with a dummy module designed to store the supplied USB cable and the company's already working with third parties on the first batch of modules.
We spent a few minutes talking about the C.24 with Miselu's CTO -- Jory Bell (of OQO fame) -- who showed us how the music keyboard evolved from the original idea to its current incarnation. He explained how the company moved away from an all-in-one Android-based product, citing the iPad's thriving ecosystem of music-focused software and the lack of compelling hardware interfaces. The device was inspired by "laser-cut flat-pack" objects that would "pop up into something that was really 3D". Early prototypes used leaf springs before the team settled on opposing magnets. A jig was then built so different magnets could be tested and placement could be fine tuned.
As for that super cool version with the transparent keys? Yeah, we want one too. Here's one more awesome tidbit: it's possible to make a four- or six-octave keyboard by latching two or three C.24's together. Watch our hands-on video / interview above for more details and follow the source link at the end of this post for the Kickstarter campaign. Then, if you have time, check out Miselu's video below which outlines the process of designing this incredible music keyboard.