China's One Music Group hit Indiegogo back in 2015 to get its smart piano learning system over to the US. By following app-controlled LED lights, the company promised to have students playing a tune in minutes. But if learners already had a piano at home, the One system meant that they'd have to stump up for another. That potentially expensive issue has been solved with the launch of the Piano Hi-Lite, an LED light strip that can sit at the back of any 88-key piano keyboard and light the way to learning.
The year after the successful Indiegogo campaign, we got to try out the portable version of the One Piano system for ourselves. We found that though it did get us off to a flying start with the basics, learning to play with any proficiency would still require hard work and a good deal of commitment.
Where the original systems illuminated actual keys on the keyboard itself, the Hi-Lite is a blocky strip that's laid across the keyboard of any 88-key piano that students already own or have access to and LED light points lined up with keys – much like Ken Ihara's PianoMaestro in fact.
"Through the great successes of our product line and classroom program, we identified a large group of potential customers that already owned a piano at home but wanted to experience the modern instruction The One provides," said the company's Ben Ye.
Like the original One system, the Hi-Lite strip is controlled by an app. It's connected to a smartphone or tablet running The One iOS/Android app over micro-USB and includes sheet music, video lessons and games.
Kicking off a lesson gets the blue and red LEDs lighting up, which the student follows to learn the song, starting slow and speeding up to tempo as confidence and skill builds. The system incorporates an auto correct feature where the lesson is paused if a wrong key is pressed, and continues when the right note is played.
The One Piano Hi-Lite is currently raising funds on Indiegogo, and has already reached its funding goal. Pledges start at US$199 and if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in November. Retail pre-orders are expected to open up next month for $269.99, with more smart education products due to follow later this year.
The Hi-Lite is introduced in the video below.