Bela's Gliss Might be the Most Expressive Touch Module You Can Buy
Funding Website Things is the somewhat unimaginative title of a regular section on the Electromaker Show on YouTube. Despite its lackluster name, the section is full of amazing new hardware you can fund via websites like Kickstarter, and Crowd Supply.
On a recent show, we discovered that the Bela team was launching a Eurorack module on Crowd Supply. Gliss appears simple on the surface, a touch strip input, which outputs control voltage signals to other synthesizers, but it's much more than that.
While Electromaker Show adjacent, we tend not to focus on things from the Synthesizer world (as much as I might want to), but this is an exception and with good reason. We actually featured Gliss twice on recent shows. Once when it was announced:
And once when it went live:
Gliss can remember your gestures, allowing you to draw repeating waveshapes and LFO patterns. The smooth lighting from behind the strips also allows you to visualize those shapes easily, and monitor incoming waveshapes too. There are a number of other wonderful features, but for me, the big picture here is the most impressive: Gliss brings a human touch to modular synth setups.
Bela as a project is fascinating, a culmination of an audio-focused operating system targeting BeagleBone hardware, a software library designed to make audio generation and digital signal processing easy, and hardware for interacting with the hardware platform to make everything from custom synthesizers to installation art. If you, like me, have played around with making sounds using hardware and are looking for a platform that combines your love of embedded programming and DIY audio creation, it's definitely worth reading up on Bela.
Eurorack synthesizers have seen a massive resurgence in recent years, due to a flurry of new manufacturers making weird, wonderful, and downright wacky modules to twist, tune and tweak your sounds. What they typically lack, however, is the human touch. Enter Gliss.
Modular Touch Control: Gliss Remembers Your Touch
The best way to understand Gliss is in the Bela team's own words:
What makes this compelling from a Maker and embedded engineer's perspective is just how much familiar ground it covers. The capacitive touch sensors in Gliss, along with the Trill series of input controls Bela already produces (also available, and now updated to a new hardware revision), echo the input devices found on many development boards. In fact, the capacitive sensing used in Gliss and Trill is the same found on many Infineon dev boards, including the ones used in The Great PSoC 6 Design Challenge we held with Infineon (then Cypress) a couple of years ago.
To get an inside look at the software development side of Gliss, Bela is producing devlog videos on the Bela Platform YouTube channel:
To find out more about the module, head to the Gliss Crowd Supply page. To learn more about the Bela project, head to the official website.
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