Co.Design

DJ's, Trash the Turntables. Get a Touchscreen [Video]

A brilliant prototype design for a pair of touchscreen turntables that do everything a DJ would want.

DJ's usually trash other DJ's who eschew turntables in favor of iPods and laptops—the idea being something like: "Man, to feel the music, you gotta have old school skills and really feel it."

Bullshit. That's like saying to really experience the essential genius of the wheel, you shouldn't power your car with an engine; instead, you should punch a hole in the floor and use your feet.

But maybe a little tech could step in and bridge the divide between old-school snobs and next-gen DJ's. For his senior thesis project at the Kansas City Art Institute, designer Gerg Kaufman created a supremely slick touch-screen interface, which would allow any traveling DJ to carry their entire equipment kit in a carry-on:

As you can see from the video, the interface design is remarkably simple—and far more intuitive than other concepts out there.

Beat-matching—the main thing that paired turntables are useful for—which is otherwise really complex can be accomplished with a couple taps. The blob-like depicting each track gives you a visual cue about what portion you're looking to loop and sample; and a number of complex music-making tools are available via tappable icons.

In short, this does the work of both a pair of turntables, and digital mixers that allow DJ's to build complex tracks on the fly via densely layered samples and loops.

[Via FlyLyf]

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5 Comments

  • MisterMr

    It's definitely a fascinating piece of equipment, but forget scratching with this. The whole design is definitely intuitive for certain scenarios, but not for all. Given the different parameters for cueing and starting a track, I'd expect a lot of mistakes, and I would potentially throw out any possibility of quick cutting between multiple tracks. You also can't deny that perception is reality: if you walk into a party and see a DJ on tables, you know you're watching exactly that - a DJ. It's a much more exciting experience knowing that that person put a ton of work into their craft over a system that babies the user every step of the way.

  • Kirin

    The tone of this article is really combative, it makes it hard to read.  As a DJ for over 10 years (and as someone who actively explores and incorporates new technology) I have to get my two cents in here.

    • The reason that touch screen concepts like this one (and for the record: it's a CONCEPT, not a functional model) is that the body is designed for tactile feedback.  It's the same reason they still make game consoles with buttons and joysticks, instead of a little glassy surface for control.  The hands and fingers have much better motor control on things like faders, knobs and so on.
    • Most of the DJs I know want to spend LESS time looking at their UI (Serato, Traktor, Ableton) and more time tweaking, blending, manipulating effects, and so forth.  This gestural touch-screen thing necessitates that you're looking at the surface the entire time to make sure that you're touching the right functions.  It's critical to have as few barriers between you and the audience as possible.  Any of the new controllers designed for digital DJ systems have this in mind, allowing you to scroll through tracks, set loop points, trigger effects etc without having to touch the laptop.

    So please.  If you're going bash "old-school snobs" who want to feel the music, and call it "bullshit," you should do some research, or talk to an actual DJ.

    xo

  • Kirin

    edit: that first bullet should say "The reason that touch screen concepts like this one aren't ready for prime time..." or something like that :)

  • Lola Pedro

    the analogy of likening a turntable snobs' stance 2 that of powering one's car with one's feet is a tad extreme. i think its actually more like those who believe that u haven't driven properly until u drive a manual (as opposed 2 an automatic) car.

  • jason coletta

    It's more about having respect for the many legendary DJs who paved the way. What about taking the time to truly understand the process and history of this artform? The least any "DJ" can do is learn to beatmatch two records!

    I find it a bit severe that you just jump to a poser "DJ" waxing poetic about "gotta have skills and really feel it." Why don't you take a closer look at some digital DJs who spin no better than an iPod on shuffle?

    In the words of Uncanny Alliance..."I got my education."

    J