Sliding two distinctive iRings between my middle and ring fingers on each hand and then conducting the bouncy electronic beat coming out of my iPad mini and into my big fat headphones made me feel less like a conductor and more like an awkward boxer, punching at a touchscreen.
Once I relaxed into it, though, the music started to flow and my hands began to dance; this is one cool iOS music-making peripheral.
The iRing is made for making music, but the potential here is stunning: Imagine a video game controlled with your hands, a webpage that scrolls at a speed you define with your fingers, or an e-book that turns pages with a swipe through the air. This is a truly innovative new product.
There are two free music-making apps you can use with these little green hand controllers, iRing Music Maker and iRing FX/Controller. The former is a delightfully fun groove-making app that shows off the iRing’s potential, while the latter is aimed squarely at musicians with full MIDI systems who want to control parameters during a performance. Both apps can be used with the touchscreen, but fully come alive with the iRing controllers slipped between two fingers on each hand. IK Multimedia’s $10 Groovemaker 2 will also work with the iRings.
With iRing Music Maker, you can hold the two iRings closer or farther from your iPad, and the app will add or remove beats from a specific groove or add and change the lead synth line for each specific song. There is a fairly robust tune included with the app download, and four other $4.99 in-app purchases to add a variety of electronica styles like dubstep, house or hip-hop to your Music Maker app.
You do need an IK Multimedia account to take full advantage of the iRings, and you’ll need to register both your IK account and the iRings themselves within each app. It gets a bit tedious, but it’s a minor quibble.
The iRings work flawlessly to control the sounds within Music Maker, opening up a whole new way of performing songs and making music with your iPad or iPhone. I got lost for some time once I grokked the different ways I could position the two iRings in the air near my iPad. Building beats in real time and then switching things up with a twist of the iRing is just sublime when you hit it just right.
For $24.99, you’re getting a whole new interaction system, plus some darn fun music-making experiences as well. You can get your own set in green, gray or white at the IK Multimedia site.