We’ve been seeing wave-your-hands-in-the-air gestural controls for music since the early part of the last century – thank you, Leon Theremin. But one of the more wholehearted efforts to make it useful has come from the makers of Hot Hand. Initially they peddled the idea to guitarists and bass players, who were already accustomed to adding additional expression to their hand via whammy bars and the like. The Hot Hand USB is the latest iteration, and now hopes to woo computer DJs and producers.
The draw: plug-it-in, driver-free control of anything via MIDI, wirelessly.
Whereas these sorts of things are often the domain of one-off experiments by musicians, they already have some impressive users – think David Bowie, Phish, My Morning Jacket, The Cure, and Adrian Belew, plus awards from the sometimes tech-phobic guitar press. For the computer market, they’re touting compatibility with Ableton Live, Traktor, Reason, Serato DJ, and Logic (plus Mainstage) out of the box. (Interestingly, there was already a wireless bridge you could use with other pedals, via jack plugs. Here, we switch to MIDI over USB.)
This isn’t necessarily meant to replace other controllers so much as augment them with additional, touchless control. Each ring provides X, Y, and Z axes, assignable in some fairly sophisticated-looking Mac/Windows editing software to whatever you want. You can use up to four rings, and the range is significant – over 30 meters (100 feet).
The device itself is driverless MIDI, too, so if you aren’t interested in using their editor product, you don’t have to – and you can use this with any device that supports USB MIDI (Linux and iPad included).
US$119, available now. We have one on the way. I expect readers aren’t blown away by the demos, so I now have the burden of seeing if we can make this useful – and seeing if I can make a demo that doesn’t get me flamed. (Gulp.)
I promise nothing resembling dubstep.
If you’ve got questions – or challenges – for us, let us know.
Oh, yeah, and you can still get loads of Hot Hand-equipped pedals and the like.
Update: DJ TechTools actually reviewed this product last year. Here’s that video review:
Wait, sorry, wrong video.
Review: Hot Hand USB Wireless MIDI Controller