Palette’s Modular Harware Controls Give You Sliders, Buttons And Knobs For Creative Software

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Waterloo-based startup Palette is building a moddable hardware controller for your computer that can turn into a complete mixing board, should you need one. It’s a hand accessory that fits the description of something I’ve actually been looking around for based on the fact that editing video without some sliders for fine-tune scrubbing is a pain, and it’s on Kickstarter now.

Co-founders Calvin Chu and Ashish Bidadi are seeking $100,000 in funding to make it a reality, and he already has over $60,000 pledged. Each starter kit unit includes one power module, one dial, one slider and one button, but you can add on more after the fact if you find you need more. They start at $99 for a basic kit, and should ship by June according to Chu if the project meets its schedule.

f44051104c424ed7c6ec544eba7f2bed_largeModules simply snap together, requiring no advanced hardware hacking on the user’s part, and making for a completely customizable hardware interface. The usefulness for sound/video/photo editors is huge, as you could potentially assign commonly used keyboard commands to specific palette modules via the companion desktop app that ships free with any kit. It’s also handy for gamers, who want a number of commands within easy reach, and perfectly suitable for DJ work, as well as a handy accessory just for making things like using Skype easy, as in the example controller Chu built for his grandmother.

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Some issues include the fact that support has to be created specifically for each application that wants to use the Palette controls, but Chu and his team are looking to offer Adobe Creative Suite support out of the box, as well as plug-ins and scripts for DJ software like Traktor and Ableton. They anticipate a community will emerge to help support the full range of available software.

Chu is a mechatronics alumni from Waterloo, the same program that brought us the MYO armband and Thalmic labs, and he’s worked for Apple, Toyota and others in the past, so he definitely seems to have the skills to back up this grand vision. One thing’s for sure: I want these, and I want them now, before I have to edit my next video the old-fashioned way.