The Rainboard is a MIDI controller born out of the research of Brett Park, a PhD in isomorphic design. His idea with the Rainboard and the accompanying iPad app, Musix, is to make playing and discovering chords a more intuitive process.
The design revolves around a hexagon of 61 tri-colour backlit arcade buttons, each with a MIDI value mapped to it, set into a transparent plastic enclosure. Colours and MIDI values are set from an external source, such as the Musix iPad app, using SysEx messages. This allows the layout to be changed quickly, by switching between presets.
Musix uses the internal iOS MIDI routing to trigger other synth apps on an iPad, so the Rainboard can be used to play any MIDI enable app.
Because the Rainboard is such a visually appealing instrument, there has been a lot of interest from musicians running Ableton Live wanting to use it for live electronics. Aesthetically, it wouldn't be out of place alongside some other slightly esoteric devices such as the Monome 64 or the Yamaha Tenori-On, and colour-wise would sit well with an Ableton Push controller.
The prototype currently has a touch-sensitive strip which can be assigned to pitchbend or modulation, but in the final production version, there may be other controls. Also, because the arcade buttons only convey on/off information and not velocity or pressure, Shiverware have been looking into using an accelerometer to bring a greater level of expression.
Keep an eye out for more from Shiverware, as they are hoping to bring the Rainboard to market within the next year or so for a projected street price of between $600 and $800. See it in action below.