The Glide

Categories: Commercial Hardware Products

Submitted by:Keith Groover

24 May 2023

Elevator Pitch

The Glide

The Glide can play highly expressive melodies, chords, and drum beats with ease by using two simple handheld controllers and basic arm movements.

Product Description

The Glide

The Glide is two hand controllers with a total of six buttons, a joystick, and a six-axis accelerometer in each controller. It's designed to be physically, financially, and technically accessible, with a smooth learning curve that rewards quick play and also long-term commitment. (Please note: the two controllers are called the “traffic light” and the “coffin”, based upon their appearance The coffin is played by your dominant hand, and the traffic light by the other hand. Each one is symmetrical to enable equal accessibility if you are right-handed or left-handed. Because of this, I’ll use the terms “traffic light” and “coffin” in the description below.) The Glide is essentially three instruments in one: 1. Melody Mode. For this mode, The Glide is monophonic, focusing on highly expressive melodies. The buttons and joystick on the traffic light select pitches, and the buttons on the coffin select the octave. Once a note is selected you make a “hit” motion with the coffin and a note is triggered. At that point you can do vibrato and tone changes by moving the coffin side to side, and volume changes by leaning the traffic light left and right. While holding a note, you can select any other pitch using the buttons and then move the traffic light forward or back to glide/slide to that new note. Or, if you’d rather, you can select a new note and make a hit with the coffin to trigger that note. This allows you to do either distinct pitches like a keyboard or make a type of manual portamento by using your traffic light arm. 2. Drum Mode. By taking advantage of the sensitivity of accelerometers, you can easily play live drum beats on The Glide. The four buttons on the traffic light are mapped to kick, snare, cymbals, and toms. The two buttons on the coffin determine if it registers forward hits or backward hits. In this mode the coffin is essentially a time keeper, and you play it by constantly shaking it like a tambourine or egg shaker. If you want just quarter notes, hold down the lower button and only forward hits will play. For eighth notes, hold down both buttons. If you want just the off-beat, hold down the top button. Using these two buttons allows you to do syncopations while keeping a steady movement going in your hand. Since the coffin works identically to a tambourine or egg shaker, you can get a straight beat by keeping your wrist stiff, or you can get a swing beat by loosening your wrist a bit. With the traffic light, the type of cymbal and tom you trigger depends on the angle of the controller. For cymbals, lean it all the way forward and you get a closed hi-hat, then at 45 degrees up an open hi-hat, then straight up a ride cymbal, then lean it back and it’s a crash. Using the same technique with the toms button, you can get four tom sounds going from high to low. 3. Chord Mode. This is essentially a combination of Melody Mode and Drum Mode. The way you trigger notes is identical to Drum Mode, but the finger combinations used in Melody Mode will trigger a corresponding chord. Each combination of buttons on the traffic light selects a different chord, and the voicing is determined by leaning the traffic light forward or back. Play a C major chord with the traffic light forward, and it will play a very low chord. Start angling it back and it will do higher and higher voicings. By default it plays a three note voicing, but lean it to the left and it will do six notes. Lean it to the right and it plays just one note, and if you then lean it forward and back you can play arpeggios. The buttons on the traffic light let you select all of the diatonic chords, and the joystick lets you alter each chord, making it sharp or flat, or changing the quality of the chord to major, minor, diminished, or augmented. You can even combine these chords to make extended chords. For all of these modes, the speed of the “hit” with the coffin corresponds to the velocity of the notes. Many more features are built-in, such as quick transposition, brightness customization, vibrato sensitivity to enable microtonal playing, power chord mode, custom drum mapping, and more.

How It's Innovative

Probably the most innovative thing about The Glide is the extensive use of accelerometers. Almost every aspect of playing The Glide depends on them. Just like the violin is centered around manipulating a bowed string, and the flute is centered around manipulating a column of air, The Glide is centered around the manipulation of accelerometers. You use them to trigger notes, to change the volume, to do vibrato, to glide from one note to another, and to alter the tone. Since these sensors are so small, sensitive, and fast, it allows The Glide to be nimble to play and comfortable to hold.

See MIDI Innovation In Action

Most Inspiring Use Cases

The Glide is designed to be physically, financially, and musically accessible, and is a stark contrast to traditional acoustic instruments which need to be focused primarily on the physics of making noise. As a result, several people who have been forced to quit playing guitar, piano, or violin due to physical issues have shown a strong interest in The Glide. One early beta tester was a woman in her thirties with severe arthritis who could no longer play guitar. She responded incredibly emotionally to being able to make music again with The Glide. The goal with The Glide is to lower the barriers to entry when it comes to music-making, and for too long we haven't used technology to our advantage, especially when it comes to live music. My hope is that The Glide can help change that.

Expansion Plans

With an instrument as deep and as novel as this one, the plan is to take things slowly and organically. We're not rushing into mass production but are constantly tweaking the hardware and software with incremental improvements. Eventually the hope is to release the source code to allow limitless tinkering and sharing by all of the Glide players. The next two planned stages beyond the current model are a high-end model with a wooden or aluminum case, and then a kids version that will be functionally the same but smaller, indestructible, and with a built in speaker. No instrument is ever adopted in the long term if it can't be played by kids, and that has been a design focus since the beginning.


The Glide is available on theglide.com for $250, or $325 for a version with custom colors. Currently we're producing them in small batches with a wait list, but are almost at the point where we can have Glides in stock with no wait.