Getting my hands on an iRing I felt a genuine rush of excitement. I’ve always love the idea of theremins, synths and “new” ways of making music. Synths and theremins have obviously been around for ages, so being able to get in on the ground floor or a new way of creating and interacting with sound had lots of sonic pioneer potential.
The iRing is an IOS-based motion controller from IK Multimedia. that uses the IOS camera and your hand motions to manipulate sound. The “Rings” are actually just little plastic widgets you grip between your fingers. Whilst I would prefer something a little classier I also appreciate that IK are keeping costs pretty low.
After a needlessly fiddly registration process you can jump into the fun of the controller. There are two apps iRing Music Maker and iRing FX Controller.
iRing Music Maker lets you wave to control beats and sync various patterns. It’s definitely fun and easy to use, although the quality of music you can make is a long way from being good and feels more like you’re trialling the potential rather than trying to make art. The iRing FX/Controller is much more useful, break the tech out of its app silo and allowing you to interact with mobile audio standards like Audiobus and MIDI, sending CC messages with gestures. You can add up to two effects from the 16 onboard. It would be great it you could control the various effects that you have in other apps – awesome in fact but at the moment third-party support is limited. IK have an SDK but the Rings would have to become incredibly popular for this to really take off.
At it’s best, using the iRing is a what music should be – joyful fun that’s as much about play as it is about creation. You do have to hover quite close to the device to get satisfactory results and I found it to be considerably more fun using the iPad app than the iPhone one as they playable area was much greater. And it’s a shame that the app doesn’t allow you to geek out on a Theremin.
For only $25 it’s definitely a low cost way to play with the future. Out now from IK Multimedia.