Tiny yet powerful systems for creating beautiful interaction
Bela and Bela Mini are the systems that started it all. They’re tiny, powerful computers that you can program right in your browser, and then embed almost anywhere.
Bela and Bela Mini power sound installations, musical instruments, guitar pedals, synth modules, and interactive objects of all kinds. The Bela software that comes with every Bela and Bela Mini system includes the Bela IDE, a powerful programming environment loaded with tools that you need and examples to help you learn and develop your creative ambitions. They have been designed for ultra low latency audio.
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Two systems, identical performance #
Bela and Bela Mini run the same Bela software, and there is no difference between them in terms of processing speed. Both systems are hard real time, have a round-trip audio latency of less than 1ms, and include the Bela IDE.
What Bela and Bela Mini offer #
Low latency = natural interaction #
Bela and Bela Mini came from musical interaction. We know that interactive artworks, musical instruments, compelling interfaces and moving experiences need to feel immediate and natural, and low latency is the key to interactions that feel responsive and human, and stop feeling like a computer.
Bela and Bela Mini enable natural interaction through their ultra low latency capabilities. “Low latency” means that your audio and sensor data are reliably processed extremely fast, producing very minimal lag. This means there’s no perceptable waiting time between when a Bela system gets an input, and when it produces an output.
It sounds simple, but latency is an enduring problem in computing, especially when sound is involved. Bela and Bela Mini solve this problem.
No complicated tools #
Crafting interactive systems often means downloading and installing software to run on your computer, and requires using interfaces like the command line that might not be familiar to everyone. We’ve solved this by making Bela and Bela Mini plug and play - just connect the system to your laptop, load up the IDE in a browser, and off you go.
Want to use command line tools anyway? No problem - just SSH in, and use whatever toolchain you like.
Connect everything #
We love sensors! Bela and Bela Mini’s 8 analog inputs and 16 digital I/O mean that you can connect a huge range of sensors and devices, from digital ones like LEDs and buttons to analog ones like potentiometers and accelerometers.
Embed anywhere #
After you’ve programmed your Bela or Bela Mini system, you can detach it from your laptop, power it with a battery, and it fits pretty much anywhere. When powered by a battery it does all its fast, powerful sensor and audio processing without the need to be attached to a computer, meaning that objects, instruments, experiences and physical interfaces come alive.
A platform for learning #
We know that learning physical computing and audio programming is challenging, even for seasoned programmers. The Bela software includes the Bela IDE, an interactive programming environment that runs right in your browser, and it’s loaded with dozens of examples to get you started. What’s more, we have built great tools that creative makers need, like an in-browser oscilloscope.
We also know that everyone’s experience with programming is different, so we’ve made Bela and Bela Mini programmable in multiple languages. Whether you’re more comfortable with C++, a visual programming language like Pure Data, or audio programming languages like Csound or Supercollider, you can code, your way.
Add-on accessories for Bela #
Bela has two additional accessories to expand the number of available audio channels, and the number of available analog inputs and outputs.
Bela and Bela Mini comparison #
Bela and Bela Mini are identical in terms of the software they run and their performance. The difference between them is in their physical size, and a couple of hardware features. Here’s a comparison chart:
|Audio I/O||2 in, 2 out (44.1kHz, 16-bit)||2 in, 2 out (44.1kHz, 16-bit)|
|Analog I/O||8 inputs, 8 outputs||8 inputs|
|Dimensions||54 x 88 x 28 mm||35 x 64 x 34 mm|
As well as these differences, Bela has two add-ons for audio expansion and multiplexing (as seen above), and they differ in terms of their compatible multichannel audio accessories.
Need more inspiration? #
If you want to see the amazing things that people are building with Bela and Bela Mini, check out the Bela Blog for projects by ambitious creators that use Bela and Bela Mini to craft beautiful interaction with sensors and sound.