Last week, we released a preliminary version of Max support for BLOCKS, an inexpensive modular system of controllers created by ROLI. The centerpiece of BLOCKS features a translucent pressure-sensitive multitouch surface stretched over an array of LEDs called the Lightpad Block. With a new set of Max UI objects, you can treat the Lightpad Block as if it were an small square iPad running Mira. The initial set of Max objects includes a button, toggle, and slider, plus a more complex button grid. We’ve also created objects for displaying images and Jitter matrices, plus a canvas object that you can draw to (kind of like the Max lcd object) that also tracks multiple touches. Finally, Max provides objects that support the other models available this month, called Control Blocks, which feature seven buttons with RGB LEDs in them plus a strip of tiny RGB LEDs.
One of the fun Mira-like features of the way you lay out UIs is that you can define “scenes” of objects that you can move through using a button on the side of the Lightpad Block (or via any other controller). But the real fun starts when you use multiple blocks, because they snap together via magnetic connectors you can change on the fly. The next update to the BLOCKS package will include support for taking actions when you reconnect your blocks. We'll also be adding example patches over the coming weeks.
One of the reasons we were convinced to be early adopters of this hardware project as it moved from prototype to production was the challenge of figuring out how to manage the combination of abstract modular hardware and abstract modular software. The package represents our first thinking about this challenge, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do with it.