Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Sliding Scale

Imagine a keyboard that could deliver not just the standard 88 notes, but the infinite array of tones between them. That’s the idea behind University of Illinois researcher Lippold Haken’s “Continuum Fingerboard.”

Although the performer sits at the device much as he or she would at a keyboard, that term is a bit of a misnomer-there are no keys. Instead, fingers move along a smooth red cloth, under which lies a row of 256 rods mounted on springs. Pressure to the surface depresses the rods, the movement of which is monitored by tiny magnetic sensors. Sliding your fingers sideways along the board produces any pitch you want, as with a violin. Moving them front to back affects the brightness of tone, and varying the pressure alters loudness. Haken has built a half-dozen of the fingerboards and doesn’t see mass popularity in the near future. “It’s very difficult to play,” he says.

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.