AUUG Motion Synth Turns iPhone, iPod touch Into An Expressive Motion-Controlled Instrument


The iPad has earned the bulk of the mindshare of mobile musicians, because of its combination of power, size and wide range of apps.

A new project, AUUG Motion Synth, explores the possibilities the iPhone and iPod touch, converting the devices into wearable motion-controlled instruments. Using it, you can control iOS synths, desktop music apps and even hardware.

The platform is made up of three components:

The AUUG grip positions the screen of an iPhone or iPod touch to be played by the fingers and secures the device to the user’s hand during motion:

AUUG grip on hand small

The AUUG app converts your iOS device’s motion sensor data into signals for shaping sound, and transfers these signals to other iOS sound apps or external devices. The AUUG app does not produce its own sounds, but instead acts to control other iOS audio apps running on the same device (as well as external devices). The AUUG app can be installed on iPhones (4S and up) and iPod touch devices (5th generation and up).

The AUUG cloud is online service at that allows AUUG app presets to be shared with other users, via your iPhone or iPod touch (no laptop or desktop needed).

Here’s a video intro to the AUUG Motion Synth:

Technical Details:

  • Samuel David Graeme: (0.16 to 0.21 mins) Animoog synth app running on same device.
  • Sonia Vaikyl: (0.22 to 0.33 mins) Magellan Jnr synth app running on same device.
  • Video sample: The video scrub demonstration (0.34 to 1.01 mins) by Joshua Young uses a 2 second clip of Evalena Marie from the independent feature film Visionary, directed by Ben Proulx.
  • Eesha Hunjon: (1.02 to 1.15 mins) Audiobus app (hosting Harmony Voice and Garageband apps) running on same device, with mic input via iRig Pre.
  • Becki Whitton: (1.16 to 1.31 mins) Audiobus app (hosting Magellan Jnr app) running on same device, with mic input via iRig Pre.
  • Adam Cook: (1.46 to 2.03 mins) Nord Stage 2 keyboard, with MIDI input via iRig MIDI.
  • Joshua Young: (0.00 to 0.15 mins) Animoog synth app running on same device; (0.34 to 1.01 mins) AUUG video scrub software running on laptop; (1.32 to 1.45 mins) Voice Live Touch 2, with MIDI input via iRig MIDI. The backing track (0.00 to 2.03 mins) each musician composed and performed their parts to and the motion-reactive visuals were also created by Joshua Young.

The AUUG Motion Synth is being developed as a Kickstarter project, with prices for early backers starting at US $68.

Check out the video and share your thoughts on the AUUG Motion Synth!

via CDM

25 thoughts on “AUUG Motion Synth Turns iPhone, iPod touch Into An Expressive Motion-Controlled Instrument

  1. I am ready for the critics… so go ahead… but I make music for clients. I need to deliver the needs of customers in a quick, efficient manner. Thus far this is achived very capably with a keyboard and mouse. I waste no time getting results. I shudder to think what a paying customer would think as I waved my hands frantically in the air like a deranged puppet using multi fingered gestures when asked “can you just turn down the drums a touch?” and I respond with “hang on… wait.. I think it’s one hand raised… a single two finger swipe left on the up stroke… wait… I’ll get the manual….byt he way.. I’m billing you for this”

    1. Clients are going to go to the guy that delivers results, and that depends on being open minded and making the most of new technologies.

    2. Well, rather than thinking of this as a product you would use for a client– perhaps think of it as something that might get gradually integrated into a live-performance setting, or for your own work.

      Your concerns about waving your arms around are certainly valid, but you would be using this as a substitute for mouse/trackpad.

      I’ve seen shows where the artist suddenly runs over to a tiny touch screen and starts shrubbing. Looks dumb. At least with this, it is the sound of one hand shrubbing, and it doesn’t require you to look at it. The overlay is a very clever idea.

      1. We actually do a heap of waving about with our guitars, sax and other hand held instruments, I’m sure this capability will be added to instruments like that in no time.

        Probably the thing that has held me back most from playing live successfully has been that fact that it is very difficult to play a guitar and synths together without some looping/sequencing taking over one or the other – these new technologies may just solve those problems.

        Whether I’ll feel comfortable putting down the guitar and picking up something weird like an eigenharp is another question.

        Anyone who has problems with waving about on stage probably has no physical presence or sense of entertaining the crowd on stage. Another laptop/keyboard gazer we don’t need.

    3. Imogen Heap would give you a very stern look if she ever sees your comment.

      By the way, if you play the piano do you then think guitars are superfluous and should be abolished just because you can make this thing called “music” on either of them? Not liking fish means anyone who does should be criticized etc…? I’m not quite sure you understand what your comment implies.

      I for one am happy we’re not living in your dream world but rather one that contains many tastes and interests and, consequently, workflows. A hive mind is rarely (read: never) the way forward but whatever.

      Have fun with your clients.

    4. Don’t you know, using a mouse and keyboard makes you look “uncool.”

      The only people we really hear that from are the people who design these gimmicky controllers, though.

    1. His control seems very limited and performance quite stilted, I wonder how often the tech didn’t respond to his movement the way he wanted, or responded when he unintentionally moved.

      My suspicion of “something different” is disappointingly human, but I do think an evolution of these technologies, and audiences getting used to them will make us more aware of how they work, and whether they’re being played masterfully.

      1. WHA?! You know nothing!
        This is way cooler than his previous rig. Lights!
        And the first album was quite listenable (got from bandcamp after previous video here).

  2. I like this device alot and would def buy one. Having worked with all sorts of musical instruments as well as music technology I say bring it on when it comes to new ways of making music, especially when it means you can move around at the same time.

  3. Hey all, I think its true what Lu said above about how an evolution of these technologies will make us more aware of how they work and get audiences used to them or whatever but I would have to disagree that the performers in the clip look stilted. They are just doing their thing. Everyone has their own style/way of moving and performing. Im in a band and I dont jump around on stage all the time… sometimes I stand pretty still like a alot of people do and Id love to give the device a go.

    Far from being limited I think its pretty impressive actually and its also super cheap, so cant see what peoples probs are.

    1. Oh, sht, you meant Onyx Ashantis performance is a bit stilted and limited not the group of young talents in the Auug clip. Didnt read it properly. My fault. Peace out y’all.

  4. Love it. Looks easy to use, is a very good price and is way cool. You should sell heaps at that price. A very useful tool for performers!

  5. I want one , good for making music at home and on the stage. It is beautiful that you can be using your arms making all the sounds and music. They are very talented. The music sounds haunting and nice to link with visual also. I dont think its gimicky. Do you think all music apps and new inventions are gimics? I think it is futuristic and that is different. You might think electric toothbrush gimmick too.

    1. Hahah i agree with you yukiko about new things not being gimmicky but exciting and futuristic. i reckon the auug has potential for artists of all different kinds from kids recording in their loungeroom to performance artists working with sound on stage. like someone else pointed out its not only affordable but simple n and easy to work with. it brings sound and movement together in a nice package. i like 🙂 (love the comment about electric toothbrush too)

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