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Palette freeform hardware controller boosts productivity

by Mark Tyson on 27 November 2013, 16:00

Tags: Kickstarter

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An interesting new and highly configurable input peripheral is progressing well on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website. The project is called Palette, which is summarily described as “A Freeform (Hardware) Interface That Controls Any Software”. In the examples on the Palette website we see interconnecting rotary, slider and button controls being used for certain functionality in a user’s software applications. The freeform peripheral connects via USB and supports Windows, Mac and Linux. Software targeted by the developers for extra Palette functionality is currently listed as Adobe Creative Suite for design, Tracktor and Ableton music programs and even web apps like Spotify and Google Maps.

Here’s what the Palette interface developers say about their modular system; “Palette empowers you to build a physical interface customized to your personal needs. It's a hardware platform made up of a variety of modules. Each module has a single physical input, like a button, dial or a slider. You snap together modules like Lego. No coding or soldering required! With Palette you can have a tool that is personalized, increasing your experience and productivity. It's a tactile interface that you can feel without looking, and that excites the senses.”

 An example configuration, RGB/HSB dials at the top

Previously I have seen quite a lot of dedicated slider, button, and dial hardware interfaces, mostly designed for music production. Palette is also suitable for this kind of application and it is listed as one of the primary examples of using this system. However it’s good to see the suggested use of Palette in photo editing and design. Just think if you could adjust the curves or levels in your photographs using sliders which map to this functionality in Photoshop, for example. There are many other possibilities including using a dial to intuitively adjust brush sizes when painting. The application of Palette is also suggested in being useful for a phone-like Skype controller for an older relative and a layout that “helps you crush your enemy in Starcraft”.

Palette modules will be available in both brushed aluminium and a real wood finish. Every Palette chain requires a power module but other than that it is up to the user to choose what modules to deploy and where they are connected.

The current Kickstarter campaign has achieved over half of its goal in just a few days. Rewards for backing the project are tiered, with higher levels of backing getting more buttons, dials and sliders. See the chart below with prices in Canadian Dollars. Shipping of the finished product is expected by June next year.

HEXUS Forums :: 11 Comments

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Great idea, I use Ableton and would love to make my own controller. Only problem is, as usual, the price. A launchpad S is currently £149 and does so much more…
I'm going to get some knobs and sliders and attach them to the top of my keyboard, I'd just have to pretend they were connected to something.
I'm going to get some knobs and sliders and attach them to the top of my keyboard, I'd just have to pretend they were connected to something.

but this is meant to boost productivity… You can fiddle with your knob all you like, but if it isn't connected to something then you're just wasting time.
I know much of this must be research and software plugins/hooks, but $99 for a button, a knob and a slider is too much to get this off the ground. They need a cheaper way to hook people into the system and make the project last.
Be handy for music production