Thursday, April 16, 2020

Sensel Morph, Seaboard Rise, Linnstruments, and Continuum are still in the Dark Ages

I purchased my iPad2  with an Alesis iDoc in 2013.  Because I am very cautious about updating and not wanting to render any app or program useless, I tend to buy all software that I possibly intend to use, then freeze updating unless I am certain that the update will still work with my OS.

This all being said to point out that I am not updated any iPad programs since about 2015. Even with this accounted for, I am still blown away with how amazing the Bit Shape TC-11 is.  Bit Shape takes the concept of an XY multitouch system to whole new levels where anything is possible. I am amazed that other control devices – especially ones that support MPE- have not implemented any of these concepts into their device.  XYZ controllers such as Roli Seaboard, Sensel Morph, Linnstruments, Hakken Continuum, etc seem like they are in the dark ages when you compare how the TC-11 implements XY control in comparison.    Don't get me wrong.  These devices are great and I own a couple of them.  What I am saying is that these companies think that they are innovative because they have an XYZ controller but all they allow is control over X, Y, and Z - which is not innovative considering inventions like the Theremin (yes, I know this is not the same type of controller - but bear with my argument) have been around for nearly 100 years now.  What IS new and innovative is multi-touch surfaces and they are not being exploited to the level that they could be.

If these companies want to really be forward thinking (which they think they are, but clearly can still learn a lot from Bit Shape) then they need to implement some of these concepts into the XYZ control surface market. 

In other words, it is not enough to just simply have X, Y and pressure (or surface area in some cases) control.  With multitouch controls, you could just as easily add angle or distance between 2 points, average/centroid position of multitouch, distance from center, distance from edge, etc.   All you need is to compute simple formulas using things like Pythagorean Theorem, etc., and then take the result and assign it to modify a parameter.  One could divide an area into multitouch zones or the differnt points could register and track in order of contact.  Another example could be the area of a triangle made by three contact points. The TC-11 also tracks things like velocity and movement from point A to point B.

My suggestion is simple:  in your configuration interfaces, add functionality to allow the user to input formulas based on XY and Z(or pressure), and make them assignable to any MIDI CC of choice.  This way, the configuration can be loaded into the device (like the Sensel Morph) and used with any MIDI application. 

Without doing this type of implementation, these companies are really limiting the possibilities of what their controllers can do. 

Unless Bit Shape has a patent on using distance, velocity, area, or angle in a controller setting, which I doubt they do, then implement these things already!!  what are you waiting for!!!

Even in a non-MPE environment, in multi-touch situations (example playing a chord), having a parameter that would change based on the interval would be useful and open up new worlds of possibilities.  You could have, for instance, a filter that opens up (brighter sound) when you play a major chord (based on root position and perfect 3rd in lowest 2 notes) and a duller sound when diminished or minor chords are played in root position.

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