Startup Wants To Put Real Knobs On Your Touchscreen


Ever wish your touchscreen music apps had real knobs?

Tuna DJ Gear hopes so. They’re working on Tuna Knobs – tangible knobs that attach with suction cups to multitouch tablet screens. 

The knobs attach with ‘conductive silicon rubber’, which apparently lets the knobs translate your knob gestures to the touchscreen.

The developers note, “We will be launching Tuna knobs on Kickstarter real soon.” If you want to follow the project, see the developer’s site.

via John Grabowski, musicradar

45 thoughts on “Startup Wants To Put Real Knobs On Your Touchscreen

  1. Good idea. They should sell them in bags of 4, 8 and 16 counts, small, medium and large. Call them Bag O’ Knobs. So you can have for example a large bag o’ medium knobs, small bag o’ large knobs, large bag o’ small knobs. Bag O’ Knobs. You’re welcome. I’m in.

  2. Anybody else getting kind of sick of random Kickstarters? It’s not just musical gear, it’s video games, bands, novels, movies, surely every other thing one could think of. You want the consumer to become an investor for something that might never pan out, whether or not it meets it’s monetary goal? The rampant spread of various small-time and unnecessary Kickstarters is almost offensive to me. Use your fucking finger to turn your virtual knob, you lazy fucks.

    1. Kickstarter anxiety is increasing. When almost every new hardware announcement turns out to be something that needs public funding… This stick-on knob is the most retarded accessory ever. You can’t keep the knobs in place unless you use just one app.

    2. Oh right, the thumbs down on my comment are because I used the word “investor” incorrectly. An investor would actually have to be paid back eventually. My mistake.

      Maybe if you donate a hundred extra dollars you can get your name on a “thank you!!1” page on the developer’s website.

  3. I’ve so predicted this in comments here before 😉
    The next step for touch screens is to have coating with shape-feedback, ie that can form small ridges and change friction, to line out a tactile keyboard or sliders etc.

    This can’t be that hard, and I’ve seen mention of some development, just nobody has succeded in making a cheap product yet.

    The solution given here seems clumsy and error-prone.
    All the best luck though, perhaps they can help to push forward the needed development!

  4. i like the idea, more for making my own midi or osc control surfaces rather than using with specific sound generation programs on the iPad.

    part of what makes this cool is that you can use the iPad to get visual feedback of the “endless” knobs setting!

    but if you’re going to make your own touchosc or lemur layout, why not make something that goes over the whole top of the iPad and you snap your knobs on place or something like that? so you don’t have to worry about them coming loose? yes it’d be more work to design something that would fit over a different iPads, but if one of these popped off and rolled away while on stage or just in the middle of stuff in the studio, i probably would lose them all shortly. also i’d don’t know how fun it will be to try and align these just right with the onscreen controls underneath, while if you were using a snapping grid system as long as your layout was within the grid you could be sure to be lined up perfectly.

    also i’d love to see fader style controls! 🙂

    1. oh and what could be interesting too is something that uses gears to rotate multiple knobs at once. you could could turn 1 knob use a fader and others would turn at different speeds. you could set up fun automation systems.

  5. It’s not a bad idea. I think the suction cups would likely stick quite well to the screen (as long as it was clean when you started). As to how accurate it is, I don’t know what the resolution of those screens are, but it would probably be a little rough. I imagine this could actually be made pretty cheaply, so you could have the “Bag o’ Knobs” (you know, as I type that, KDub is right. That’s IT!).

    However, it is yet another thing (besides your big fat stupid hand) that you put between your eyes and your display. I’d much rather use an external box o’ knobs to control those parameters and see the results onscreen.

  6. Better to buy real equipment.just got a strymon big sky.Full of knobs as it is a serious machine. This idea doesn’t seem to make sense on a touch screen if your using lots of soft synths at the same time etc which would all have different layouts. An actual mono analogue is cheaper than some prestige brand tablets.

  7. How about stick-on record deck for DJ apps? Obviously I don’t need to use my tablet for more than one application because doing so confuses me. I’d love to be able to glue a record-deck onto my tablet. Or how about a set of cross hairs I can superglue to the screen for gaming?

  8. What part of touchscreen do people not understand?
    Imagine using those knobs with an app with multiple screens, or an app within audiobus, or just simply switching between apps. It won’t work!
    If you want knobs there are many class compliant midi controllers available today.
    It is a stupid idea, period.

  9. the idea is not stupid. eventually, we will get into haptic add ons to touch screens. humans love touching things that are real.

    this idea is not quite thought through yet, though. the way i work with my ipad involves switching apps a lot. no way to work with fixed knobs.

    maybe an external box could be a solution, with enough knobs, buttons and sliders. this box could communicate with the synth app (via a defined protocol) and have a screenlike surface around these elements that represents (and adapts to) the app surface – so eg you could have a knob for filter that is marked as such on a diagram of the signal flow. but this would have a much bigger price tag than our bag o’knobs…

    1. I hate touch screens. The new fad of putting touch screen stereos in cars just plain sucks. You have to take your eyes off the road and physically look at the screen to see where your hand is going and where you need to press. It’s not like the intuitive muscle memory that knobs and buttons give you. But hey, people like stuff that’s “cool” and “in fashion” even if it makes no sense.

  10. I forget who it was, but a couple years ago somebody tried to make the same thing basically with stick on control sticks for game controllers, assuming that everybody wanted to play games on their iPads just like they do on their consoles. And nobody noticed. It died a silent death because the products decided to embrace the new touchscreen format and be designed for that input, thereby completely removing the need for such a product, even if somebody had wanted it.

    I’ll give them a lot of props for pulling off the text. It will be no small task. But for so many obvious reasons, this is a product that is doomed to fade into obscurity immediately.

  11. I find this downright humorous. First workstation touchscreens are too small and people want more knobs. Then there are these stick-on knobs, but they step on the point of a touchscreen. THEN there’s the even bigger bear of how many apps people want to suck down like soda pop. What, are you going to pop those knobs on and off all day? How many of you have picked just a couple of apps you use steadily? Not many, I’d bet, because the variety and quality of things is so tempting. The idea itself is good, but its hard to see it as practical when it mainly adds more loose stuff you have to haul around in a bag with your chargers, cords and etc. If you are fanatical about a few apps such that these would stay in place for an extended work session, its a useful option for things like envelope controls, but the ergonomics won’t thrill you over time. A screen is a screen and knobs is knobs.

    1. Agreed.
      I think the need that this particular product addresses is MUCH better addressed with an external control surface. Period. But there may be a particular app and/or macro setup where this could be useful. But it is probably not a broadly applicable.

  12. Sorry, but I think most of you are missing the point. The ipad doesn’t need to give me 10 apps on screen at the same time. For live use, to be able to add tactility to nave, or better, a lemur patch, is great idea. Presumably these can be unatached and repositioned for another app, so if you tend to use your ipad for only one or two apps at a time, this could b a nice addition… Assuming the pricing is sensible.

  13. I just think it’s funny. The devolution of the touch screen. If Benny Hill were alive today, he’d probably say, “Oh yeah, that. We did a sketch about that in 1967.”

  14. Also, reality check, or why this mostly won’t work because it needs to deny the virtual versatility of the touch screen:
    You ever see that cartoon about a guy who found out how to fly by flapping his wings, and he invited all the bigwigs to see, and this blow-hard general who obviously had no idea how to do it told him he was doing it wrong and showed him basically idiotic nonsense in comparison, and then the guy suddenly couldn’t remember exactly how to flap his arms the right way any more, and couldn’t fly, so they all just called him a failure and that they new it all along. So, basically, never listen to anyone else, they will just clip your wings. And these knobs, while well intentioned, are a step in the wrong direction. What we need is a touch screen with advanced feedback that can make your fingers FEEL like they are touching a knob or fader when it’s just an image. Apple, you do that, even I would buy one of your overpriced toys.

    1. Gridsleep – Aren’t you contradicting yourself here? 🙂

      “So, basically, never listen to anyone else, they will just clip your wings. And these knobs, while well intentioned, are a step in the wrong direction.”

      1. I’m just saying, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
        The knobs ARE a step backward. They answer the question of touch screens not allowing you to actually touch anything. We need to improve the new technology, not subvert it with old technology.

        1. its not backward man, its a revolution for a touch screen to become more n more closer to the user. with the people who also had lot of difference stuff n just want to use iPad w 1 app like ielectribe or smt n its become exactly like hardware. w the touch screen i think i can’t tweak n switch 2-3 maybe more knob at once but w that, its possible! Do u think that the touch screen is always better than to touch the real knob? some parameters does, some not (like cutoff, resonant…)

  15. My recommendation would be an induction field generated above the glass, to magneto-electrically stimulate the nerve endings without actually touching the skin. It could be done, but it might require room temperature superconductors. Apple might have to start Brainstorming.

  16. It’s very doubtful that I would ever attach a set of these to my iPad, but just _one_ that could be brought into play as needed, for example when you have to ride the filter on the bass line, would be useful.

    Especially in a mobile context. I’m not hooking up a midi controller to my iPad while I’m sat on a train, but pulling one of these out of my pocket isn’t a completely ridiculous idea 🙂

    If they work well in practice, I will probably buy, so long as they aren’t overpriced.

  17. Seems cool, but better choice for touch screen is sliders and NOT KNOBS … most workable touchscreen control layouts use sliders for ease of use, smooth control, etc. Seems more doable to hook up an existing MIDI knob controller to the iPad via MIDI.

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