Artiphon wowed us two years ago when it brought the Instrument 1 to CES, and today — after a long wait — it's starting to bring the device to the public. It's launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the Instrument 1, an electronic instrument that can sound and be played like a guitar, piano, violin, or bass. The Instrument 1 can actually sound like a lot more than that: it hooks up to iPhones, iPads, Macs, and PCs and will output sounds based on whatever MIDI app is running. The actual device is largely just a fret board, with a small head on top and a "body" containing a bridge, speaker, volume knob, and instrument presets.
Funding was completed in under six hours
The Instrument 1 kind of looks like the essence of a whole bunch of string instruments, and that's exactly the idea: you should hold it and use it however you want, and then set it to make whatever sounds you want. Artiphon also builds in some more automated modes that are meant to allow people who don't know how to play an instrument to pick up the Instrument 1 and start making something that sounds good. Artiphon also makes a specific companion app for the Instrument 1, though it seems to welcome musicians switching to the MIDI app of their choice.
Artiphon is offering the Instrument 1 in white and black for $349 and with a wooden back for $899. The campaign was looking to raise $75,000, but it quickly exceeded that after launching today. At press time, it had just broken $100,000.
Since we saw the Instrument 1 two years ago, the device has received a basic design overhaul. At CES 2013, it had a handle, was largely made of wood, and included a slot for an iPhone. The basic shape — aside from the handle — has largely stayed the same, but the new design appears to be simpler and to give musicians a bigger space to play on. Artiphon also appears to have taken the time to make the less expensive, non-wood models. They may not look quite as nice, but they're a lot more affordable. You can see our interview with Artiphon CEO Mike Butera below.