We’ve seen a number of projects over the years that turn gestures and body movement into music, including the Fitbit-like Mictic and Onyx Ashanti’s 3D-printed Beatjazz Hands. Now Sony is jumping on stage with a wearable effects generator for musicians called Motion Sonic.
To help get the device ready for market release, and to engage the very people who will be using it – musicians and DJs – Sony has launched the project on Indiegogo, where backers will be asked to help shape the final design.
The idea is to allow musicians to call up sound effects or pitch changes by using hand or finger gestures while they are playing an instrument. The Motion Sonic 6-axis motion sensor is strapped to a hand or wrist, and relays the wearer’s movements over Bluetooth to an iPhone running a companion app (Android is not supported at this stage).
This triggers the desired pitch change, vibrato or modulation effects to the output from an instrument cabled up to the smartphone and speaker/amp via an audio interface (which isn’t included as part of the rewards on offer). Wave, roll, up/down, left/right and twist motions are all supported, and effects include pitch bending, distortion, reverb and delay.
A guitarist could, for example, change the frequency for a low pass filter while strumming some power chords, or dial in variable delay by raising the picking hand in the air to engage the audience. There are more examples for guitar players in the video below, and as you can see, there doesn’t appear to be any significant lag that could spoil the sonic party.
MOTION SONIC – Guitar Demo
Keyboard players could bring all manner of Seaboard-like expressive play to the party.
MOTION SONIC – Keyboard Piano demo
And the wave of a DJ’s hand could add a whole new dimension to a beat-driven performance, which is again showcased in a demo video from Sony.
MOTION SONIC – DJ Demo
The sensor unit rocks a RGB LED strip for an extra visual element, and users can look forward to up to 2.5 hours of per-charge play with the LED switched on, or 6 hours with it turned off. And the adjustable band or strap can be worn on either hand, though it does look like the setup can only support one Motion Sonic running at any one time – at least for the moment.
This certainly has the hallmarks of a fun and engaging way to dial in effects while playing, and will allow for new visual and sonic dimensions to be added to a live performance. We can’t wait to give the Motion Sonic a try.
The Indiegogo campaign is only open to backers in the US and Japan, where early bird pledges start at JPY 23,900 (about US$220). If all goes to plan, Sony estimates shipping will begin in March 2022.