French company Enhancia has been working on the concept for its MIDI ring for over a year, and it’s finally coming to Kickstarter in March. The tiny accessory, worn on the index finger of your right hand, allows a user to trigger musical effects like pitch bends or vibrato by making specific movements while playing a keyboard.
The ring, which is lightweight and made out of a soft plastic with a metal accent, communicates with a hub that is connected to your computer. The hub both charges the ring and also tells the ring which effects are mapped to which movements. There’s also a standalone piece of software and a plugin, which can be used with a Digital Audio Workstation, like Ableton or Logic.
The ring’s sensors track three specific hand movements that are by mapped to certain effects by default (though these can be swapped out for any other effects a musician chooses). There’s a slight hand wobble, which is for vibrato, a slow tilt back and forth for pitch bend, and a tilt forward for a low pass filter. These movements were chosen because they tend to be natural gestures while playing a keyboard anyway, allowing musicians to add dimension and additional expression as they’re playing with extremely minimal effort. It’s quite fun to watch someone play while wearing one, and can be quite dramatic, not just audio-wise, but also as part of a visual performance. It’s admittedly cool to see someone magically modulate music in the air.
The concept of a MIDI ring is not entirely new, but other models tend to register any movements made by your hand, instead of only responding to specific motions. Enhancia wanted musicians to be able to play their keyboard as they normally would, and also be very intentional about when effects were enacted.
Although the model that was shown at CES is wired, the final version will be wireless, and will come with seven different sizes of interchangeable ring bands for the best fit. The company also says it has plans for future features that will be integrated specifically for other types of musicians, but is remaining mum on those details for now.
Enhancia’s MIDI ring will be available for preorder on Kickstarter starting in March 2018 for an undisclosed price.