Using the front facing camera on an iOS device as a theremin is nothing new in particular. In fact I’d suggest that Yonac did this first with their AirVox app, which is still on the app store, although it hasn’t been updated in some time. But that isn’t to say that there isn’t room for another app in this space.

Now neo Drone has arrived and describes itself as an ‘innovative theremin like synthesizer’. Like other apps (and AirVox) the pitch of the oscillators is controlled by moving your hand in the air without touching the device. The hand is tracked by the front face camera.

The algorithm behind the app was made by the developer of new drone at the second Music Hakathon in Sofia. You can control the range of the synth by adjusting the light sensitivity, but the app is not working in dark environments. The tonal range is 2 and a half octaves and you can play in legato and staccato mode. The touch area of the device is working as a kill switch so you can produce these talking synth sound.

Main Features:

  • play without touching the device
  • kill switch
  • 2.5 octaves
  • adjust camera range with light sensitivity slider
  • core midi – so you can add USB midi keyboard to the show
  • nice and fat sound
  • visual color indicator for the playing note
  • legato and staccato mode

Now this app isn’t going to change the world for you, that’s for sure. However, it is good to see that people are still experimenting with different ways to control synthesis and sound using iOS. I hope that new drone gets more features and also further refined as time goes on. If also like to see Yonac’s AirVox get an update one day too, but that’s a story for another day I think. For now, why not try new drone.

new drone – virtual theremin on the app store, priced at $2.99