IK Multimedia iRing Review
IK Multimedia’s latest innovation, the iRing, is geared primarily towards musicians and DJs. Recently released alongside two free companion apps, iRing Music Maker and iRing FX Controller, iRing allows users to control apps and effects by simply using hand gestures – the “rings” interface with iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch cameras and track movement in three dimensions, similar to Microsoft’s Kinect and the PlayStation Move video game interfaces.
iRing’s Triangular and Linear “rings” fit between a person’s fingers – they aren’t actual rings, which helps from a “one size fits all” perspective. Each ring has a unique dotted design, which is tracked by the iOS device’s front-facing camera. The idea is that one ring goes on each hand, allowing users to manipulate multiple parameters in a music app at once, such as groove patterns and FX in IK Multimedia’s own GrooveMaker app, without ever touching your device. Additionally, the software can recognize simple gestures, such as turning the rings slowly, to trigger various functions.
While the iRing is automatically detected in the two free downloadable companion apps – iRing Music and iRing FX – the use of these motion controllers is locked in other apps such as GrooveMaker until you “register” iRing with each individual app, which seems odd and unnecessary. Don’t throw away the QR codes included in the packaging, as you’ll need them to use iRing with these apps.
iRing Music Maker is sort of a demo version of GrooveMaker, specifically tailored for use with the iRing. By moving your hands closer to and farther away from your iOS device’s camera, you can add or subtract layers from the current groove with the Triangular ring, and affect the FX portion of the sound with the Linear ring. iRing FX can manipulate sound from outside sources using AudioBus and Inter-App Audio compatible applications, adding effects such as delay, phaser, bitcrushing, and more to create a unique sound. Both rings worked okay in standard room lighting, but if your room isn’t brightly lit the rings will not track correctly. I had more trouble getting the apps to recognize the Triangular ring for whatever reason, especially in GrooveMaker, which simply refused to recognize it. Perhaps future updates can improve the functionality and tracking of the rings. In the documentation, it makes it clear that wearing striped or checkered clothing can interfere with the tracking. I wore a plain white t-shirt in my tests and still experienced tracking problems.
IK Multimedia has also released the SDK for iRing for free, so that software developers can take advantage of its capabilities in future apps – even those outside of the music realm, such as gaming or fitness apps. It will be interesting to see how many developers make use of the iRing, as there is definitely potential for unique applications. Perhaps even ports of Nintendo Wii, Kinect or PlayStation Move games could materialize in the future.
Overall, IK Multimedia’s iRing is an impressive piece of tech, but some tracking problems prevent it from reaching its full potential. At the moment the device will mostly appeal to DJs, but if future updates and revisions improve tracking then many more applications could feasibly make use of the iRing technology. At only $25, it’s certainly worth checking out.