Marketing themselves with the risky “Quit School, Play Music” claim, Netherland’s OWOW (Omnipresent World of Wizkids) released a set of very interesting wireless MIDI controllers allowing musicians to compose tracks and control effects dynamically through motion.
They are deemed MIDIS 2.0 – a family of USB powered little white devices, which also come in a “card” form factor in order to be attached directly on instruments bodies – guitars, violins and such.
Basically, the devices record different type of motions. This movement is then translated to MIDI on the fly so you can write tracks and score or even assign CC parameters to control effects, both hardware and software. It’s like Nintendo Wii for music making!
The family currently includes 4 members – The Wob, the Wiggle, the Drum and the Scan.
The Wob is the simplest device: it has a proximity sensor mounted on the top, so when you move your hand over it, and up and down, it detects how close (or far) you are from the sensor and translates this “vertical motion” into MIDI CC signals, allowing you to dynamically control continuous parameters such as the level of effects in your signal path (think reverb, delays and more) – or even trigger notes.
I find this example below on guitar, with a “Wob Card” attached on its top, especially awesome:
The wiggle is something similar to the Wii Remote.
You move the thing around in space and it detects motion in all 3 dimensions (X,Y,Z) and independently sends MIDI CC signals for each dimension.
In this way, you can control 3 effects at the same time, just like you did with the wob, but three times as much.
The buttons also work as control change MIDI messages – so you can, for instance, change patch or preset in your synthesiser or effects unit while you control the effects … which can produce amazing results if you get used to it – it requires some training.
Now this is fun! Play air drum and turn it into real drum tracks and patterns!
Basically, the motion sensors in the Drum are set so they trigger MIDI notes on drummer-like movements, so you can really, like “play the drums” with those little sticks – provided you feed a drum machine or drum sampler or drum synth with the output of the Drum. But nobody limits you to that – you can trigger whatever you want including synth sounds, vocal samples, loops…
All the buttons are MIDI – mappable and Drum even has MIDI CC capabilities on the X asis.
How cool is this?
Last, but definitely not least, the Scan has a “light” sensor on its bottom part, so you can draw dots and/or lines on paper .. and when you hover the device on it, it translates your drawing into MIDI notes – yes, it detects pitch! You Move up or down in octaves with the up and down buttons.
To me, this devices seems particularly useful for controlling lighting devices – even more than making music. But it’s extremely, extremely cool.
See it in action:
All the devices share USB charging and power, battery operation, MIDI-over-USB implementation , super portability and aluminum cases (when you purchase the “device” version).
The card form factor is stripped from the aluminum chassis so it’s slightly cheaper and more convenient for “permanent” installation on other instruments or controllers.
They also share the launch price:
€ 109 per device with aluminum case
€ 89 per device in the “card” format.
I will definitely order one very soon – keep in touch for a review!