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Gadgets

Meet Keys, a modular musical keyboard that fits in your backpack and links with your iPhone

Targeted at piano novices and experienced musicians, Keys is the first modular keyboard with full-sized LED keys that features gesture control, as well as PC and iPhone connectivity.

Keys is available for pre-order now for $100 and will ship early this summer. David Carnoy/CNET

In 2012, Opho, a San Francisco-based startup known back then as Incident Technologies, had one of the more successful Kickstarter campaigns, raising $350,000 for its digital guitar, gTar, on the crowdfunding site. Now it hopes to do even better with with the launch of its second product, Keys, a $100 portable -- and modular -- musical keyboard with full-sized LED keys, proximity gesture control, and a rechargeable battery.

Idan Beck, founder and CEO of Opho, stopped by CNET's New York offices with some prototypes of the keyboard, which he says will ship early this summer. He envisioned Keys and its companion iOS app as both a teaching tool for piano novices and as a creation tool for experienced musicians and professional DJs.

What's interesting is that you can magnetically link two of the 24-key keyboard together to form a 48-key keyboard. And down the road you'll also be able to attach modular control panels and other accessories.

Beck explained that Keys uses AMON technology, a "magnetically actuated wireless communication technology," which allows multiple Keys to magnetically connect and create real time ad-hoc networks. What's nice is that when you're done playing you can break down the modules and stack them on top of each other, making them easy to fit in backpack or bag.

You can link keyboards together magnetically. David Carnoy/CNET

Beck, a guitar player not a piano player, says he learned a lot from the launch of gTar, which remains on sale.

"We wanted to do a much more affordable product that has more mass-market appeal," Beck said. "And quite frankly, we wanted to do a lighter product that was smaller, easier to ship, and could fit on store shelves at big-box retailers like Best Buy."

Integrated gesture control allows you to wave your hand over the keyboard to create special-effects sounds.. David Carnoy/CNET

Instead of Kickstarter, this time the company is launching Keys on Indiegogo, a competing crowdfunding site.

Keys is available for pre-sale for $100 with free shipping in the US (adding $20 for international shipping takes it to £79 or AU$155). The company says a portion of the proceeds from the pre-order campaign will go to Immunity Project, a non-profit initiative dedicated to developing a free HIV vaccine.