Back in November 2012, when Ed Sheeran was "up and coming" and the internet had little interest in blue and black dresses, a small US tech company called Artiphon unveiled the INSTRUMENT 1 - a synth-like beast with a long neck that, when connected to an iPhone, could replicate almost any instrument going. It impressed everyone who got to play it, touring tech expos and events before fading into obscurity.
Artiphon has clearly been busy refining its multi-instrument design: it's been slimmed down, removing the carry handle and axing the need to dock your smartphone with the INSTRUMENT 1 case. You can play it in just about any fashion that takes you: across your lap, piano-style, vertically like a double bass or under arm like a guitar.
To make some music, all you have to do is connect the INSTRUMENT 1 up to an app like GarageBand (iOS is fully supported at the moment, with Android compatibility in the works), select your preferred instrument, and start playing the keys/frets of its black neck. It also works as a MIDI controller, allowing you to use the pad in any way you see fit - hitting keys for percussion sounds or strumming it like a banjo.
Partnered with the Artiphon app, you can set the INSTRUMENT 1 to do just about anything you want: get rid of frets, give it an open tuning, assign a different instrument to each string, mess about with the pressure control. According to Artiphone, it'll help anyone who hasn't played an instrument get to grips with music, while offering experienced musicians a new tool of expression.
Currently smashing its Kickstarter target, you can order an INSTRUMENT 1 for £228 - a perfectly reasonable sum, considering it sounds like every instrument ever made (and digitalised).
And yes, you're still going to have to practice if you want to sound any good.