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.
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.