The latest to jump into the “ring” with a crazy wearable MIDI controller gadget is Genki Instruments and Wave. Just launched on IndieGoGo they have already met their goal and now have to turn it into a reality.
We’ve seen MIDI tattoos, controller gloves, Leap Motion gesture tracking and VR Ableton control but the humble ring seems to have captured people’s interest. There was the Oria Ring controller that seems to have evolved into the Enhancia Ring seen at CES at NAMM this year. There’s also the iRing from IK Multimedia and the SpecDrums light and colour fueled ring based controller. But Wave seems to be ahead of the curve, offering a lot of possibilities and marketed with humour and personality – a winning combination in my book.
This is a wearable MIDI controller which can send commands with the motion of your hand. You can use it to control effects, move parameters, alter aspects of sound, trigger samples, whatever you like. Movement in different ways can be mapped to different controls. So moving up and down could control filter cut-off, rotating your hand could control resonance which waving could push the reverb decay. The movements are officially Tilt, Pan and Roll. Tapping your finger against a surface causes triggering action. But one feature brings an added dimension we’ve not seen before in a ring based controller, and also accounts for its chunkiness, and that’s a bunch of buttons.
In the videos it does look a bit uncomfortably square and angled and you can imagine it getting a bit annoying after a while. However, there are renders on the IndieGoGo page that have it much sleeker, with the buttons cleverly integrated and fabulous looking colour LED display. It actually looks pretty cool.
Key features of the hardware in addition to the 5 interactive buttons and LED display are that it has some haptic feedback and a sweat resistant adjustable textile strap. It runs on Bluetooth, supports Bluetooth MIDI and has a battery life of 4 hours.
A very on-trend idea is to get it to work with Eurorack. Genki have gone all in with this idea by creating their own Eurorack receiver module. Wavefront sports 5 outputs. 3 CV outputs for the waving, and 2 gate outputs for the tapping and buttons. That is very interesting indeed and in many ways takes it to a whole other place. I imagine that once the Eurorack community get hold of it they’ll quickly tire of waving and start attaching Wave to other things to generate CV and general weirdness. That’s going to be fun.
My aching arms
As with all these sorts of controllers the main obstacle is in the effort required to hold your arms in the air. What I like about the ring format is that your hands are still on your instrument, as normal, and you only have to move when you want to affect something. That’s a lot less effort than gloves or Virtual Reality. Although that doesn’t stop you feeling silly when you start waving during a performance.
By all accounts they’ve done a great job on this. Wave can still be pre-ordered on the Early Bird deal of $129 (normal price $200) and should get delivered by the end of the year. If you want the Wavefront module too then it’s $199 (normally $350) which is pretty tempting.
- Genki Instruments IndieGoGo page.