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Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 11-02-18 3:33 pm
by ltgseb

I'm a long-time Synthesia customer and decided to get a Piano Hi-Lite ( ... /x/3370843#/) for my digital piano, because it supports Synthesia.

Has anyone gotten it as well, and more importantly, gotten it to work as expected? All I'm looking to do is have the lights on the device light up on the correct piano keys as the synthesia song is playing. Can't get it to work.


Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 11-02-18 6:36 pm
by Nicholas
We just added support for it in the (upcoming) Synthesia 10.5 update.

Are you using an Android device? You can opt-into the beta by heading over to this Google Play page.

Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 11-03-18 11:14 am
by ltgseb
Hi Nicholas - Thanks for the quick response. Yes I'm using an Android Tablet. I just joined the beta. Will try it again, however seems I already had it installed (see attached image)? What version should I be using?
I went to Settings and tried choosing the device for input and/or output, and I cannot get the lights on the Hi-Lite to light up when Synthesia is playing a song.

Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 11-03-18 1:26 pm
by Nicholas
As long as you see "10.5..." at the lower-right corner of the title screen, you're using the right version.

Otherwise, when you pick the Hi-Lite from the Settings --> Music Output list, what have you picked for "Key Lights"? Have you tried "Proprietary 1" (all the way at the bottom)? That's the One Smart Group's specific key light setting. Does that get it up and running?

Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 11-09-18 6:58 pm
by ltgseb
Ok I finally got it to update. I am now getting strange behavior from the Hi-Lite device. Will have to find a way to record a video of it. Stand by...

Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 10-24-19 3:33 pm
by Artifox
Hi all, I just joined to post about similar glitchiness with I've experienced using the Hi-Lite with Synthesia.

I'm connected through USB on PC and input notes seem fine, but the light prompts (with "Proprietary 1") quickly go out of whack. I've attached a midi file to demonstrate.

When the song starts, the first few high notes on the right hand are ok. Then as soon as the left hand notes start appearing, the wrong lights will appear on the Hi-Lite. Thereafter, even the right hand notes start missing some lights and everything generally behaves weirdly.

I think this might have to do with the Hi-Lite being 88 keys, while the ONE Smart Piano is 61 keys and that's throwing off the light offset.

I realize that Synthesia has no obligation to support this proprietary algorithm, but I do want to express my deep appreciation for attempting it. @Nicholas and everyone at Synthesia, you guys rock! If there's anything I can do to help you support the Hi-Lite, I would be happy to beta test and even have some experience coding, if you want me to try to look into reverse engineering the protocol.

Thanks a lot!

Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 10-28-19 3:30 am
by Nicholas
Unfortunately the "quickly go out of whack" behavior seems to be a hardware problem.

The One folks have sent us both their keyboard and the Hi-Lite (along with the technical details of their completely made-up, proprietary communication scheme) so we can try to get the lights working in Synthesia. The impression I got from reading between the lines in our emails back and forth was that their original plan was to have a completely closed ecosystem, but user requests for compatibility with other apps had overwhelmed them a little more than they had expected. The v0.1 of the technical document they sent over with the communication scheme was dated two days prior. :lol:

Our integration with the keyboard went totally smoothly and everything there seems to work just fine.

Then, a year later, they announced the Hi-Lite product. They use roughly the same communication scheme, except the Hi-Lite also has a notion of blue vs. red lights. (The keyboard is red-only.)

But, we noticed early on into the Hi-Lite integration that things didn't behave quite the same. If you send very slow/periodic/infrequent messages, everything is fine. But even so much as trying to simultaneously light a chord on one hand with a few notes on the other seems to lead to the light strip becoming overwhelmed and you get all sorts of strange behavior like flickering, lights in the wrong octave or out at the edges, etc.

When we were finally able to get in touch with the engineering team, the official answer was that we were sending messages "too quickly".

I asked how they define "too quickly" and after six or seven messages back and forth (with a rather steep language barrier and only bits and pieces of my questions answered each time), we eventually got down to these sorts of (direct quote) snippets:

Them: "About transmission speed, our engineer said you can try 20ms or 50hz."

Me: "... how many light messages can be sent safely every 20ms? Only one? Several? How many?"

Them: "Only one."

Me: "Just to confirm: You guys developed hardware that uses the MIDI standard (from the year 1981, which communicates at 31250 bps) in the year 2017 that is only able to safely receive eight bytes every 20ms (or 3200 bps)? I'm interested to hear about the design decisions that made you choose to support only 10% of the speed supported by a three decade old standard. What kind of microcontroller do you have in that thing?"

Them: "As for how many bytes can be sent in one time, this is related to the interval of sending packets specified in the BLE protocol, as well as differences in mobile devices, operating system differences, and differences in Bluetooth chips. Considering the above factors, in order to ensure complete and stable data, we decide Sending one packet of data at a time is 20 bytes."

That was about the Bluetooth connection, but I never got a satisfactory answer why the directly-wired connection seemed to suffer from the same problems.

At the end of the day, they seem to have made some design decisions that severely limit the usefulness of the device. I wish I had a better workaround for you. Sorry!

Re: Connecting with the "Piano Hi-Lite" from "The One"

Posted: 10-30-19 12:46 am
by Artifox
Wow, thanks for the background primer! Uh, so that's a little weird...

I mean they must have some better internal documentation of the protocol for the Hi-Lite, because the Hi-Lite app is able to prompt for chords and complex sequences of notes fine.

Would is be possible to try to contact the engineer again for a new spec document? And if there's anything I can do (even if you want me to just badger them :P), I'll be happy to try to help. This device has a lot of potential, and I'd really like to see everyone be able to make the most of it.

And thanks a lot for your continued support for Synthesia @Nicholas, really one of the best MIDI apps on the planet. ;)