In the previous article, you revealed to us your new keyboard, Exquis, which is a controller associated with an application on computers and mobile devices. What was really appealing about the du-touch was the all-in-one aspect and the mobility that this allows. With this new configuration, aren’t you afraid of disappointing current dualists?
The loss of the all-in-one aspect was a big internal debate and we know how attached some users are to the ultra-mobility of the du-touch – special dedication to Alban. (Editor’s note: Alban is a dualist who always wears a dualo attached to his belt as soon as he leaves his home. He’s known throughout the northeast of Paris for this).
I spoke earlier about the fact that we have taken the intellectual step of separating our know-how into simple and autonomous elements, and also of having the most open and eco-responsible approach possible. So one of our goals was to design a keyboard that was as simple as possible, removing everything that wasn’t necessary, and making sure that the Exquis circuit board could be the basis of a multitude future variations.
But we haven’t abandoned the ultra-mobile aspect, on the contrary because we’ve placed LEDs underneath the keys that are poweful enough to play in the sunshine! It’s just that this mobility will take many forms, depending on the needs and configurations of each. I’ll give an example: buying an Exquis plus a refurbished iPhone 8 that would be dedicated to only making music, would cost around the same price as a du-touch S, but with an upgrade potential a hundred times greater.
On the other hand, we already have working prototypes that foreshadow all-in-one and standalone versions. To respect the corporate values that we have defined for Intuitive Instruments, rather than developing specific circuit boards, we rely on existing solutions that are combined to form as many variations as there are uses. To be more specific, our app already works on small computers in credit card format, such as Raspberry Pi. To regain the form and mobility of a du-touch, all you need are two circuit boards from Exquis, a Raspberry Pi with a screen, a battery like the one that charges a phone, and a box around it all.
This approach that we took in developing the Exquis, is inspired by Open Harware, which is like Open Source software, but for physical objects.
And in concrete terms, what does an Open Hardware approach mean?
It’s the idea that the end user can manufacture certain parts themselves, or even create their own designs to augment, improve or transform the starting object. It’s increasingly easy to have access to a 3D printer, a laser cutter or a digital milling maching. So we will share some of the mechanical design files.
Then to be able to offer a “pay only for what you need at a given time” approach.
For example, I can already tell you that we will be offering a “bare” version of the Exquis, i.e. the circuit board, the silicone for the keys and a grid to hold everything in a sandwich. It will be perfectly functional, it’s just that there will be no box around it, a bit like the Pocket Operator by Teenage Engineering (NLDR: small synthesisers in a calculator format without a case).
The idea is simple: if your budget is really limited, by removing the case we reduce the cost. It’s then up to the user to ensure that this version would be adequate for his/her use. And then, if it becomes necessary, it will be possible to buy or manufacture the appropriate case, in the materials you want.
Of course, we will also offer “dressed up” versions in serveral materials, using as many of the most eco-responsible materials as possible.
Actually you were talking about the values of the Intuitive Instruments company, and, in particular, eco-responsibility. Isn’t that a bit of greenwashing?
We’re doing everything we can to make sure that this is not the case!
Reflection on the company’s values really took shape at the end of 2020. We brought together around fifteen people from the dualo community for 3 days in a kind of seminar, and together we all considered the motivations and perceptions of each person around the dualo project. Moreover, I was impressed because without my intervention, all the participants agreed on the common goal of the project, that of democratising the practice and creation of music. And yet it was this objective that had so inspired Jules and myself when the project was born.
On the basis of this exchange, we worked within the team on the values that we wanted to have at the heart of the company, and the means to achieve them.
Personally, I have been wondering for at least five years now about making a living from manufacturing and selling circuit boards, a resource that isn’t particularly eco-responsible and sustainable.
Everyday we try to make decisions by looking at their environmental impact. For the electronics of the Exquis, there aren’t many solutions, the only valid one is to increase the life of the object as much as possible, especially its duration of usage. How many things have we thrown away that still worked but weren’t used anymore?
To increase this duration of use, we therefore chose a more powerful microcontroller than is presently needed, anticipating our wish to add new functionalities; and, as I said, we designed the Exquis to be the basis of a multitude of objects of different shapes and uses, which can evolve over time.
So when is it coming out?
At the end of spring 2023! And to help us finance the industrialisation phase that we are now entering, we’re going to launch a crowdfunding campaign in about ten days. We’ll communicate the exact date very soon, we just want to take the time to be perfectly ready. We’re in the middle of editing campaign videos, and we can’t wait to show you it all!
And can you announce the price of this nice new “toy” already?
To thank everyone who takes the time to read this newsletter, we will announce the details of the campaign a few days before it starts. But I can already say that the first to participate in the campaign will be able to have an Exquis for less than 200€.
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And finally, the question that many of today’s dualists must be asking themselves: does this mean that you will stop making the du-touch S?
No, we still have enough stocks of components to manufacture the du-touch S. And for the updates, on the contrary, we really hope that the current dualists will support us through the crowdfunding campaign; because if we manage to largely surpass our objective, we’ll be able to quickly reinforce the development team to finally begin a major overhaul of the internal code of the du-touch, which is necessary to calmly add new functionalities and extend it’s useful life even more.