There's a good reason why so many of us still prefer mechanical keyboards and real control boards despite the availability of touchscreen interfaces: In many cases, they give us more control over our digital worlds. Fans of tactile interfaces will love this project by Florian Born—who created a system that meshes your iPad with arrangeable physical controls.
The system is relatively simple, at least for the user. It's a series of three types of controls—knobs, sliders, and buttons—which each have an edging of magnets. They click into place on your iPad's screen, transmitting inputs thanks to their conductive aluminum shells. Born wrote an app that turns those inputs into useable information—and tailor it to whatever particular use he needs, from editing to music.
It's a really interesting weaving of an incredibly staid form of user interaction and the relatively new phenomenon of touchscreens—and somehow, it ends up being more than the sum of its parts. Because unlike either of those interfaces, Born's system is infinitely rearrangeable and reprogrammable, a DIY piece of UI that recycles itself endlessly. Pretty neat. [Creative Applications]