Ever since the invention of the theremin back in 1928, musicians have sought a way to create music simply by moving their hands. The theremin was an early electronic instrument that provided many of those eerie sounds heard in bad horror and sci-fi flicks from the mid 20th-century and never really reached mainstream. Now IK Multimedia has announced another way to wave your hands and magically create music with the iRing motion controller (US$24.99).
The iRing consists of two double-sided "rings" that are placed between two fingers on each hand. One has three black dots on it that are placed in a triangular pattern, while the other has three dots in a row. Your iOS device picks up the 3D position of your hands by recognizing and tracking those dot patterns, then translates the position into MIDI information. At $25, it's certainly more affordable than the much-ballyhooed Leap Motion Controller ($80).
Of course, "hardware" is of no use without apps to generate some practical output, and that's why the company provides iRing Music Maker and iRing FX/Controller to musicians for free. The former app uses loops that can be remixed by waving your hands in front of your iPhone or iPad, changing beats, controlling rhythmic elements, playing synth parts, or controlling effects. iRing FX/Controller is billed as a real-time audio effects processor and MIDI controller for skilled musicians.
IK is also offering developers a free SDK and licensing program to take advantage of the iRing in their own music apps. TUAW will have a full review of the iRing and iRing Music Maker in the near future.