Silicon Valley-based Miselu, a startup developing “connected” musical instruments, unveiled a wireless music keyboard product called the C.24 at a press briefing last week. Compatible with MIDI over BlueTooth LE (low energy), the product is available for 24,800 yen ($206) at Softbank Selection, an online store by SoftBank Commerce and Service.
Miselu launched a Kickstarter campaign for the musical instrument last year, and fundraised over $130,000, exceeding its initial goal of $99,000. Miselu founder and CEO Yoshinari Yoshikawa said they developed the product because musical instruments have constraints in where they can be played. To give users an experience similar to a real instrument, the Miselu team made the most of their patented technologies such as measuring the keyboard stroke strength with optical sensors and using repulsive force in magnetic field to reproduce an appropriate stroke weight of keyboards.
Miselu provides a free iOS app called Key to facilitate playing of the keyboard. But users can play without the app by letting it connect with more than 350 Core MIDI-compatible apps such as Korg’s Module/Gadget and Apple’s Garage Band and Finger Piano Plus. While the product is compatible with iOS and Yosemite (MacOS X), the company is working on further developments so that the device will be able to be connected with Android handsets, Windows PCs, tablets, karaoke terminals, and smart TVs after next year.
Japanese popular sound director Taiyo Higuchi was invited to the conference as a guest presenter. He is well known for having produced songs for Softbank’s humanoid robot Pepper as well as Atarimae Taiso (literally meaning ‘No Surprise Exercise‘) for a Japanese comedy duo. Leveraging the portability of the keyboard, he said he wants to use it to compose songs outdoors such as at a beach, or grassland, or in caves, which typically have good acoustics.
Muselu was launched in 2008, and is now a 16-person team comprised of engineers and designers from Apple, IBM, and MIT. The company has secured $6 million from investors including Japanese state-run startup fund Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) to date. CEO Yoshikawa is a successful serial entrepreneur and has founded website production studio Digital Magic Lab in Tokyo followed by internet protocol technology-focused software development company IP Infusion in Silicon Valley.
They have not disclosed a sales target for Japan. They plan to introduce the product in the US in January 2015 following introduction to the Japanese market. Miselu has wireless communication regulation approvals in Korea, Hong Kong, and several other countries, so they will start shipping the product globally in the near future.