ROLI, the maker of the Seaboard and Blocks, has announced its first product without a squishy surface, and it could make you a better keyboard player.
LUMI is a wireless multicoloured backlit keyboard that connects to the LUMI app, that works on an iPad. Working together, the coloured keys of the LUMI light up in time with notes flying towards you in the app – just like guitar hero. ROLI’s bid is to make learning the keyboard easier with this functionality, allowing you to jam along to famous tracks like a game, or upgrade to piano roll or musical notation when you feel ready.
LUMI has 24 miniature keys and thanks to the Magsafe-like technology debuted on the Blocks range, multiple units magnetically click together so you can expand your keyboard, two octaves (and $249) at a time. You can even link in Seaboard Blocks or Lightpad Blocks should you so desire.
Naturally, LUMI also functions as a Bluetooth wireless MIDI keyboard. For professionals, this could be a useful device for denoting key-splits, chords and more, much like Native Instruments’ S-Series controller keyboards, albeit with more colour. Pros will also appreciate the inclusion of polyphonic aftertouch for heightened expression, while ROLI says that the LUMI keys have 92% of the plunge distance of a grand piano, which is an appealing prospect.
ROLI isn’t the first company to look for a technological solution to learning an instrument. Melodics is a capable platform that will help you learn keyboard, finger drumming or electric drums similarly. And they’ve partnered with hardware manufacturers such as Ableton, Akai, Novation, Roland, Korg and even ROLI themselves.
At the time of writing, LUMI had already been funded to the tune of nearly £500,000 – far surpassing its the pledge goal of £100,000.
It’s interesting to see ROLI taking to Kickstarter to fund a project like this, especially considering the amount of capital they’ve received in high-profile funding round. In May 2016, the company announced a cash injection of $27M from several venture capital funds. Then, last year, more funding from Sony in June of last year.
Notably, the songs that appear in the launch video below, Calvin Harris’s Summer and Sia’s Chandelier, were both released on imprints of – you guessed it – Sony. With the weight of one of the big three behind them and some fun technology to assist, ROLI could succeed as the music learning platform of choice for budding keyboardists.
The LUMI will cost $249, though early bird pricing starts at $150. To find out more and pre-order your LUMI at a discount, visit kickstarter.com.