With just about every aspect of music production going digital, one budding DJ is looking to march to the beat of his own drum. Samuel Verburg joined forces with Dutch design firm Tweetonig aiming to mix not just perfectly matched beats, but a bit of old with a little bit of new. The result is Tuna Knobs, physical controls that work on any capacitive touchscreen to bring tactile feedback to music making applications.

The idea for Tuna Knobs arose when Verburg discovered the music production capabilities of the iPad at the behest of a colleague. After some time experimenting with apps such as virtual midi controller TouchOSC, Verburg concluded that the experience just wasn't quite the same. This led him to team up with Tweetonig to explore how these these apps might be improved by integrating the touch and feel of conventional DJ hardware.

"It is basically a stylus," John Tillema, product developer at Tweetonig, tells Gizmag. "The biggest problem was actually getting the footprint large enough so that every device recognize it as being a finger print. That, combined with getting the right feeling, made it a nice engineering challenge."

The team has now arrived at a prototype it hopes will offer a new kind of experience for musicians. A clear acrylic base is fixed to the touchscreen with a suction cap. Placed correctly to align with the virtual knobs on-screen, a conductive rubber grip combines with a conductive surface on the underside to transform a real-life turning movement into an in-app touch command.

The company has established relationships with a number of developers, and says that more are currently in the works.

"We are now completely working on TouchOSC, Korg iMS-20, Korg iElectrive and iDJ2GO," says Tillema. "TouchAble and d(--)b will support turning knobs, and thus Tuna Knobs, support on their next updates because of our product."

Tuna Knobs are compatible with Windows, Android and iOS touchscreen devices and the team is taking to Kickstarter to raise funds for injection molding tooling to enter production. Pledges vary from €9 (US$12) for a single knob up to €85 ($115) for a set of 10.

Check out the pitch video below.

Sources: Tuna DJ Gear, Kickstarter

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    About the Author

    Nick Lavars

    Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.

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    • For more info in Spanish http://deejays.es/tuna-knobs-potenciometros-fisicos-con-ventosas-para-tu-tablet/ :)

    • It would seem to be fairly obvious that the next step is to make a cradle or base or similar support to hold a repurposed smart phone to act as a digital front end processor to interface input devices such as knobs & instruments with output display & storage. Clearly a destination for recordings to land on, i.e. internet to share with listeners and cloud storage, etc.etc. This is essentially a human interface device and could also be used to manually interact with graphics in ways that brushes, paints, pens etc. have never permitted. Imagine being able to point & click on a graphic shape to grab & manipulate that object.


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