From familiar-looking keyboards to portable projection-based tables, there are a good many touch-enabled flat controllers available that can help turn strokes, taps and bumps of the surface into music. There are also a few spatial types like the Motus that can transform mid-air moves into funky digital sounds. Pulse combines the two, allowing players to create tunes by caressing its touch-sensitive surface or going gestural in the space above it.
The Pulse music creation platform is the result of four years of research and development by a team of 14 engineers, software developers, scientists, audio innovators, aerospace engineers, researchers, electronic engineers and designers collectively known as Titan Reality – the first company to join a technology innovation incubator program set up by the famous Abbey Road Studios in London.
There is little in the way of actual detail on what makes the mains-powered Pulse tick, but the company says its three-dimensional sensor technology is "fast, sensitive and intelligent" and caters for full-speed tracking of objects on or above the 12 x 12-in (30 x 30-cm) play zone of the music controller (that's 12 inches in diameter for the touch surface and 12 inches above for spatial tracking). A matrix of multicolored LEDs up top can be made to blink with the beat or indicate different zones for available instruments, sounds or parameters.
The sensors can detect the position of hands or objects immediately above the unit's surface for mid-air navigation, parameter tweaking or instrument play, and can also recognize gestures, such as the virtual stick hits of an air drummer or the strum of an invisible guitar. The surface itself can register velocity, pressure, friction and impact, enabling users to scratch vinyl on virtual turntables, for example, or turn finger drumming on pads into digital sounds. Objects can also be added to the playing area to act as controls.
The hardware is only half of the system equation, though. The Pulse will need to be USB-connected to a smart device or computer running Titan Reality apps, which are reported to open the flood gates to thousands of virtual instruments, digital sounds and effects, and audio gear simulations. The software has been designed to run on iOS and Android, as well as OS X and Windows, and can also be made available as plugins for music creation software such as Ableton Live, Pro Tools and GarageBand.
The company says it's developed a unique process to digitize sounds and instruments and then tie them into the Pulse hardware for optimum responsiveness, though no detail has been made available. The database of all these sonic goodies will be stored in the cloud, with users previewing and selecting items for download via a digital platform known as Explore. Titan Reality plans to add more than a hundred new instruments each month, with virtual simulations of rare handmade treasures joining state of the art modern creations. There's also talk of being able to share creations, tips and tricks with other users in a global Pulse community.
After five generations of Pulse prototypes, Titan Reality is now gearing up for full-scale production. To that end, the team has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Early bird Pulse units are still shown as available for a pledge of £750 (about US$1,150), each coming with the added draw of an included £500 voucher to redeem in the Explore store. The campaign is due to run until December 3 and if all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in December 2016.
A brief intro to the Pulse can be seen in the video below.