This Astonishing Digital Piano Uses “Flying Drones” as Speakers

Roland is flying high with this ambitious concept.

Speakers for any modern devices are typically built right in to the device, but Roland is thinking outside the box—or piano—for their 50th anniversary.

The fabled electronic musical instrument company debuted its ambitious digital piano concept piano at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The piano features a sleek body made of Japanese oak with a touch panel in the lid, and it hides a 14-speaker, 360° system, per Engadget.

But the unit's standout feature is its innovative flying drone speakers, which "hover over the piano" and "bathe the player in a sound shower." The speakers are said to float around and change positions, communicating with the piano on a low-latency channel developed in-house by Roland.

Roland's 50th anniversary digital piano concept.

Roland

But how feasible are drones when implemented as speakers? After all, the drones do have to fly, which means they'll emit wind and propeller noise as they hover around any given player's head. Roland says they're still a bit loud, but they'll be upgraded as quiet drone technology becomes available. 

"In this 50th Anniversary Concept Model, we've developed and installed cutting-edge sound field realization technology," said Yoshiyasu Kitagawam, head of Roland's Piano Development Division. "Beginning with the EP-10, we installed sounds from 1973, the RD-1000, JD-800, V-Piano, SuperNATURAL, and other historical sounds. This allows you to relive the evolution of technology since the introduction of the digital piano in 1973."

Watch the digital piano in action below. 

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