If you’re a musician looking to add drum beats or loops via a pedal, a Finnish company called Kovaluu has unveiled a cheap solution. Its app for iOS and Android, called Beats and Loops, transforms your smartphone into a virtual pedal. You can trigger a loop or beat just by hovering your foot a few inches above your smartphone. An additional “press” lets you change the beat or add fills, turning you into a one-man band.
The app detects your foot using your smartphone’s proximity detector. While that sensor normally disables your screen during calls, “it can be used for other purposes as well,” Kovaluu wrote in a press release. The company claims it’s one of the first musical applications to use the proximity sensor for gesture detection.
The drum machine comes with 50 drum presets, along with fills and A/B parts that can be triggered hands-free. It also has a looper with unlimited overdubs so that you can trigger backing parts while you play. “The looper can be used with just the phone microphone,” Kovaluu wrote. “Place your phone next to your instrument or amplifier and start rocking.” Recordings can also be triggered by the virtual pedal and are automatically synced to the beat.
While I’m far from being a pro or even amateur musician, I tested out the app with a Huawei P30 phone to see if I could easily trigger beats with my foot. I found it to be reasonably responsive, but I had to get my foot fairly close to the phone’s screen before the drum loops would start or change. That could vary depending on the phone, but if you’re planning to buy the app, I’d recommend wearing very soft-soled shoes (or even just socks at home). That way, you won’t you trod too roughly on the screen — particularly if you’re playing some stomping punk or country beats.
Along with the beats and loops, the app comes with a metronome and chromatic tuner, along with MIDI and external audio interface connectivity. It’s now available on iOS and Google Play for $3.99 (€3.99 in Europe).