There seems to be no end of uses for the smart fabric that inhabits all of Keith McMillen’s products. The latest to emerge from the KMI Labs is the K-Board Pro 4, a 4-octave keyboard controller supporting Multidimensional Polyphony Expression. It looks a lot like a regular keyboard and is designed to resemble a traditional controller but is actually flat, the black keys protruding slightly. The silicone keys don’t depress and rest on smart fabric sensors that allow for x,y and z data to be generated per key. These correspond to key velocity, continuously gathered pressure information and mappable vertical and horizontal positions, which are usually assigned to pitch and timbre. Across the top of the controller are 4 strips of the white silicone material which are freely assignable.
The K-Board Pro 4 is housed in a sturdy aluminium frame and has no moving parts, making it very resilient. It lacks the style and visual impact of the ROLI controllers and the white silicone present on all McMillen products has a style of its own and, to me, always looks slightly weird – but hopefully functionality will win over aesthetics.
KMI say that this product is due to be released by the summer, but they said that about the K-Mix last year and it’s only just now crawling towards release. There’s no news on the pricing but I’d recommend undercutting the ROLI by some considerable distance. They also need to release some better looking demo videos.
More information: http://www.keithmcmillen.com/labs/k-board-pro-4/