January 23, 2012

The Keith McMillen QuNeo 3D Multi-touch Pad Controller

A little while ago a company called Keith McMillen Instruments proposed an idea for something called a QuNeo 3D Multi-touch Pad Controller on If you don’t know it, Kickstarter is a place where proposals for creative endeavors can confirm public interest in the form of donations and even pre-orders. Once a project’s proposed goal is met and the end of the proposed funding deadline met, the project is green lit and all of the donations are actually accepted. If a project fails to meet its goal, the project does not go forward, no money is collected and the creative making the pitch is not left trying to finish their project under funded. So far Kickstarter has brought a lot of wonderful things to life, and gear related projects have been among them.

When Keith McMillen Instruments proposed the QuNeo, they figured they could get their project underway for around 15,000 dollars. The project in question was a surface that, while reminiscent of the Novation Launchpad, appeared to have it’s own sort of LED witchcraft afoot. The QuNeo was to be 44 pads, sliders, rotaries & switches that were pressure, velocity & position sensitive. The Multi-colored lights looked similar to LaunchPad, but had their own vibe. Peter Kirn posted the QuNeo Kickstarter over at and it was all over. When the drive was over the project had exceed their goal post and received over $100,000 dollars in pre-orders.

After getting a look at it for myself with Matt over at the QuNeo booth; I can safely say no one is going to be disappointed. The pads’ unique sensitivity was on display in an Ableton set and the potential for what this thing can do is not hard to see. This is kind of like that kid in the class who blows the curve for everyone else. While it is possible that the guys over at Novation could just corner Keith McMillen in the bathroom at NAMM and beat him up, my hope is that this will lead to the next iteration of the LaunchPad being a magical beast. Even if it isn’t, there’s definitely room to drop a QuNeo in next to my LaunchPad. My only disappointment about the QuNeo after actually seeing it in the flesh is that I don’t already have one pre-ordered.

Keith McMillen QuNeo 3D at NAMM 2012 UniqueSquared

Here’s the run down on the features of the QuNeo:

Tactile Pads, Sliders, Rotary Sensors and Switches
Each of the 27 pads, sliders and rotary sensors are pressure, velocity, and location sensitive. Even the 17 switches respond to how hard you press.

LED Light Feedback
A remarkable lumination scheme combines variably diffusive elastomers with 251 multi-color LEDs providing visual feedback that is immediately responsive and delightfully informative. Man and machine are coupled through light, feel and sound.

Trigger Pads
16 square pads provide 127 levels of Velocity response. And X-Y location. And continuous pressure. For each pad. Times sixteen.

Rotary Sensors
2 rotary sensors allow you to scrub, trigger, stretch, pinch and play phrases and sound files, manipulate continuous controllers and more . Each rotary sensor measures angle, pressure and distance from the center.

Multi-touch Sliders
9 touch sensitive sliders can be mapped to fader and effects controls. LEDs within each slider act as VU meters or remind you where you were. Multi-touch lets you select a length between two fingers to set stereo locations or filter resonances. Tapping a slider can mute or toggle any track or function.

The switches are located in smart groupings to select samples, fader banks, and transport controls. Each of the switches can scan up and down through files at speeds variable with your touch. Great for quickly locating that perfect fill or telling your looper you really meant it.

The Size of an iPad
QuNeo is the size of an iPad and can fit in iPad accessories such as mic clips, stands and more.

Class Compliant and Open Source Development Kit
QuNeo works with USB, MIDI or OSC and will communicate with your favorite music software environments right out of the box. More advanced users and programmers can use the development kit and API to create their own code to respond to QuNeo’s sensor data. Hack away to control your world in ways never before possible!