The next innovations in music and sound may come somewhere between fashion and instrument, between hardware, software, and service.
The AUUG Motion Synth represents one idea of how to do that. In terms of hardware, it’s just aluminum – albeit aluminum in a rather clever configuration. Worn on your wrist, it solves the problem of how to gesture with an iPhone or iPod touch without … well, without dropping it. There isn’t any additional sensor; it simply uses the sensing already in the device. Then again, with Apple’s iPhone 5S, that may be what you want, and the presence of the wearable accessory directs motion more specifically by controlling the orientation of your device. In addition to gripping the phone, the windows in the case also provide tactile feedback for buttons on the synth.
On the software side, AUUG the app handles tracking and synthesis. Sharing is built in, too, with a “cloud” for exchanging presets and ideas.
“Great! A big bracelet that lets me use one app!” No, actually – you can send MIDI to any iOS app, or transmit MIDI to your computer. Any Core MIDI-compatible app or WiFi-MIDI-enabled computer will work. Since there’s CoreMIDI support, you can also use wired MIDI if you choose.
Whether this particular idea takes off, it seems it represents a number of promising trends. Thinking about hardware and software (and online sharing) as they come together in one product is smart. And strange as it may seem now, I think the fusion of wearable tech will continue to progress and become more natural – I can’t help but notice the similarity here to Onyx Ashanti’s (open source) prosthetics and handheld hardware. (He’s still working on that; I hope we check up soon.)
The only bad news is, the Kickstarter project is looking for US$70,000, which is a bit steeper than similar music projects we’ve recently seen funded. But you get a discount for investing early: US$68 buys you the whole accessory, which the makers say will retail for $110.
Now, if only the top of the wristband worked like the communicators on Babylon 5, I’d buy ten. (Wait… was I the only person who made that connection? Nerd…)