In its current state as a prototype, the KnittedKeyboard II makes use of “digital knitting technology” to provide expressive playability; it is capable of recognizing both pressure and proximity. The controller has a familiar piano key layout in five octaves, but here’s something you have to get your head around: it has some Theremin-like characteristics.
Irmandy Wicaksono, a PhD candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, was in charge of the project.
The inventor wrote in a description that a fabric keyboard, in addition to providing new interactions and tactile experiences for musical expression, “can be easily folded, rolled up, and packed in our luggage like a pair of socks or a scarf.” He also included a video demonstration.
“The KnittedKeyboard II combines both discrete controls from traditional keystrokes and expressive continuous controls from the non-contact Theremin-inspired proximity sensors by waving and hovering in the air.”
Furthermore, you can interact with the controller in unusual ways, such as by squeezing, pulling, stretching, and twisting it, to name a few examples: The output is MIDI information that can be sent to a digital audio workstation (DAW) such as Ableton Live, where you will eventually be able to map MIDI messages to different parameters to further customize the experience.
Even though it’s a novel concept, we’re not convinced it’ll be available for purchase any time soon. Wicaksono’s endeavor, on the other hand, is unquestionably a testament to the ethos that music technology can manifest itself in interesting ways that we would never expect; and that, in and of itself, fills our hearts with joy.