One of the things that I liked the most about the original design for the ISHIZENO submodular synthesizer was the use of a built-in iPod touch as primary screen. The reason why I liked it is because the iPod has a great screen, and a fantastic multi-touch interface that is really difficult to reproduce with a custom device.
Today, I’ve decided to go back to this original design philosophy, by removing the two foldable touchscreens, and adding a longitudinal groove at the top of the device to hold a tablet in semi-vertical position. When using an iPad air 2 in landscape orientation, the iPad’s display will be as long as the set of knobs and jack chassis sockets, allowing us to provide visual feedback for all CV ports and all rotary encoders.
This simple change brings many benefits:
First, it allows us to bring the CV ports from the back to the top of the device, thereby removing the funky folding mechanism that we had envisioned for the portplate. This should make it a lot easier to patch the device with external components.
Second, by removing the two touchscreens, we also get rid of their folding mechanism, which further simplifies the mechanical aspects of our design. Quite frankly, we have enough complexity to deal with at the electrical and software levels…
Third, it allows us to add two more rows of knobs, bringing their total count from 8 to 24. This should make the device a lot easier to use, especially for the synthesizer part.
Fourth, it gives us enough space to illuminate each knob with 32 RGB LEDs, in a manner similar to the amazing MIDI controller developed by 96Hz.org. And who doesn’t want more knobs?
Fifth, it gives us plenty of space to add more connectors on the back, including S/PDIF, ADAT, Lightning, and a second pair of XLR connectors used to drive a second pair of studio monitors.
With this design, we’re also getting rid of a component that is likely to become obsolete very soon, as people get used to the quality of retina displays. Instead, by assuming that users will bring their own tablet, we ensure that they can always get the very best that companies like Apple or Samsung have to offer. And as planned originally, the tablet will communicate with the device’s on-board computer over WiFi, and the user interface will be served as a set of web pages by the web server running on the on-board computer.
I am still getting used to this new design, but I think that I like it…