OWOW puts digital music creation in the palm of your hand

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The developers reckon that €50,000 (about US$56,000) should be enough to kickstart the first production run and are looking to crowdfunders for help

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A company based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, has spent the last 3 years designing, developing, tweaking and building what's described as a new breed of musical instruments. Just when the sonic scientists at Omnipresent World of Wizkids (OWOW) had reached a point where the five "smartly built, but stupidly simple to use" MIDI devices were ready for the production line, they ran out of money. So they've turned to Kickstarter to get the wob, wiggle, drum, pads and scan into the hands of players.

A few years back, company founder Pieter-Jan Pieters created some sensor-packed electronic instruments that transformed finger movements, waving hands, feet-tapping and heartbeats into music for his graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven. Spin forward more than 3 years and the OWOW MIDI instruments/controllers are born.

Designed to make digital music creation a tad easier – and more fun – than having to dive into layers and layers of complicated computer-based production suites, each of the plug and play devices will be offered in two flavors. The CRD version is a roughly credit card-sized bare-bones circuit board that will allow tinkerers and makers to come up with their own housing or 3D print an enclosure using files made available online. The DVC models, however, will already be encased in stylish aluminum boxes.

Samples, sounds and effects running in MIDI software on a USB-connected computer or laptop are triggered by hand movements above the wob's center eye. A push of the yellow button can change the triggered sounds to fire off a digital tom or snare every time the sensor detects a hand within its hit zone. The photo below shows the CRD version of this device attached to an acoustic guitar to fire effects when a player moves away from the soundboard. Nice.

Different sounds and effects can be assigned to the X, Y and Z axes for the wiggle, which are influenced by the rotation of the hand holding the device. Those looking to explore their inner air drummer will doubtless grab the drum, where samples or sounds fire with a flick of the wrist. Sensitivity can be adjusted to match the virtual wallop of the player.

If finger drumming is more your thing, then pads has you covered. Dubbed the most portable drumpad ever created, this instrument features four pressure-sensitive pads for creating the rhythms, with a yellow button allowing players to scroll through different drum sounds.

Finally, there's scan – an instrument that will turn drawings, doodles and scribbles into music. Sounds or samples are triggered as the device is moved across a work of art, or even just a curvy line, and pitch effects can be added by pressing the up or down buttons.

The developers say that, frustratingly, the OWOW MIDI instruments are production ready, but the company doesn't have the funds to finance the first manufacturing run. They reckon that €50,000 (about US$56,000) should be enough to kickstart the first batch off the production line and are looking to crowdfunders for help.

Early bird Kickstarter pledges for a CRD version start at €49 each (rising to €59 when the first 250 have been snapped up), with the DVC coming in at €99 per instrument (which will go up to €119 when the early bird specials have gone). Backers will be asked to select which instrument is favored after the campaign ends on Jul 8. Those who simply must have them all can plump for a full set of either the board or housed versions for €295 and €595, respectively. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to begin in February of next year.

You can see the OWOW instruments in action in the Kickstarter pitch video below.

Sources: OWOW, Kickstarter

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