Trackpads and keyboards are great for many things, but there are some tasks where there’s no substitute for a physical dial, slider or button. In video editing, for example, there’s a reason that professional kit uses a rotary dial to move forward or backward through the video clip. Photo editing and audio work are also far easier with physical dials and sliders.
While there’s a whole world of dedicated hardware controllers out there, the Palette project on Kickstarter takes a particularly neat approach: a modular system that you can design to your own requirements. There’s a power block, button, rotary dial and slider, and you can mix-and-match them in any layout you like, and they can be made to work with any software …
Palette empowers you to build a physical interface customized to your personal needs. It’s a hardware platform made up of a variety of modules. Each module has a single physical input, like a button, dial or a slider. You snap together modules like Lego. No coding or soldering required!
All modules also have built-in RGB LEDs to help you locate them in the dark, aimed primarily at mobile DJs – though our resident audio expert did observe that the modules would need to be robust to stand up to this work.
You use just one USB port no matter how many modules you use, and the team says it may be possible to switch to Wifi or Bluetooth later just by swapping out the power module.
$99 Canadian plus $20 shipping to countries outside Canada gets you a starter kit of the power module, then one each of the button, dial and slider. There are more expensive options if you want more modules.
The project currently has $86,714 pledged of its $100,000 goal, with 30 days to go, so looks like it has a decent chance of making it. You’ll need to be patient, though: delivery is set for June next year.