Funded! This project was successfully funded on December 19.

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Transform your iPhone or iPod touch into an intuitive and expressive motion-controlled musical instrument

Thanks to our backers, the Motion Synth Kickstarter campaign is now nearing successful completion, but if you arrive past the deadline you can still get a Motion Synth: Head over to auug.com for more info and to place an order. All Motion Synth rewards will will be shipped to our Kickstarter backers prior to shipment of any Motion Synth units ordered at auug.com.

To follow the Motion Synth's journey ahead, please find us at Twitter (@auugmotionsynth) and Facebook (fb.com/auug.motion.synth), and visit auug.com for further social media signups.

As part of standard Kickstarter policy this page will freeze at the end of the campaign (Dec 19, 2013, 7.59 EST) and we will no longer be able to update it.

Thanks once more to all our amazing backers!

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As featured on:

See the expressive potential of motion-to-sound control in this 'acoustic' demo, where the Motion Synth is wirelessly controlling violin sound software on a laptop:

What is the Motion Synth?

The AUUG Motion Synth (pronounced ‘aug’ as in ‘augment’) consists of three components; the AUUG grip, the AUUG app, and the AUUG cloud.

Simply install the AUUG app, slip your iPhone or iPod touch into the AUUG grip, and you are ready to play!

All our backers ($68 and up) will receive an AUUG grip, the AUUG app (via the app store), and access to the AUUG cloud.

Get started in seconds:

We have designed the Motion Synth to be as easy to use as possible.

If you can use an app, you can use the Motion Synth!

Watch the video below to see how simple it is to get started - Fit your iPhone or iPod touch and begin sending motion signals to GarageBand in just 25 seconds!

Rich and expressive musical control

A slider on a mixing desk can move in one way only, up or down.

By comparison, your hand can move in six different ways - in location and orientation - all at the same time!

Why not use this incredible freedom of movement as a way to create sounds that are musically rich and expressive?

See the Motion Synth in action with Ableton Live:

Start engaging with music in minutes of practice time, not months

The Motion Synth gives you the freedom to choose how your movements shape sound.

Highly intuitive motion-to-sound connections are built into the app, thereby speeding up how quickly you can learn to play musically-expressive sounds.

In addition, the level of complexity in these motion-to-sound connections is configurable, so you can keep things very simple and engaging to start with, and then increase the level of complexity as soon as you feel ready for the challenge of greater expressive control.

The musical scale assigned to the touch screen buttons is also configurable. You can select a scale to precisely suit whatever your fellow musicians are playing, or whatever music you are listening to, and start improvising along immediately - without any fear of playing a 'wrong' note.

The nuts and bolts:

With the Motion Synth you can:

  • Expressively control a vast array of sounds on your iPhone or iPod touch by ‘playing’ other audio apps.
  • Intuitively shape vocal harmonies and effects in real time by controlling harmonizer hardware devices or effect apps.
  • Wirelessly control software on a laptop or desktop computer.
  • Control non-wireless music hardware via MIDI cable.
  • Design your own forms of motion-based sound control, and share them with others.

For more details on the above uses please see the FAQ.

The Motion Synth is compatible with iPhone (4S and up) and iPod touch (5th generation and up). 

The features and benefits of the AUUG grip, the AUUG app, and the AUUG cloud in more detail:

AUUG grip:

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. The AUUG grip design has been developed with these musician needs in mind:

  • Playability: We discovered that musicians could play melodies and harmonies far more accurately and comfortably if they did not have to grip their iOS device while playing, so the AUUG grip positions your iOS device in the optimal playing orientation and comfortably keeps it there.
  • Learn-ability: We also discovered that a touchscreen overlay could provide the tactile feedback that is essential for accurate note playing while the arm is in motion, and for accelerating practice-improvement.
  • Reliability: Touring musicians need super-durable and reliable gear, so the AUUG grip frame is made from a single sheet of aircraft grade aluminum, that is laser-cut, cold CNC-bent, and given a tumble-smoothed, clear-anodized finish. The front face of your iOS device is also protected by a rigid, tough, and super-light aluminum-composite frame.
  • Comfort: The unique form and pattern of the AUUG grip frame was designed with ergonomics and skin-breathability in mind, but only weighs a barely-noticeable single ounce (~28 grams)! Once you have adjusted the elastic section of the strap to fit your hand, you can quickly slip the AUUG grip on without further adjustment. The strap achieves both a highly-secure and comfortable fit by anchoring to a small section on the thumb side of the frame (via a super-tough polypropylene connector) and then widening to grip a large area across the back of the hand.
  • Upgradability: The durable front section of the AUUG grip allows the iOS device to be quickly and securely inserted or removed. Multiple front sections are available to precisely fit different iOS device sizes, and if you want to change your iOS device you can simply detach the front section from the AUUG grip and re-attach the right-sized replacement (see FAQ for more details).

AUUG app:

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), thereby giving the user the freedom and flexibility to choose from a much larger range of sounds than a single app could provide. The AUUG app can be installed on iPhones (4S and up) and iPod touch devices (5th generation and up).

The AUUG app also includes a variety of windows optimized for playing and configuration:

  • Performance window: This window includes 8 button zones, which are aligned precisely with the AUUG grip overlay, and are designed to play diatonic scales (e.g. C Major).
  • Notes menu window: Here you can choose the scale you wish to play (e.g. E minor), the scale’s octave, activation of orientation-based octave control, and other musical options.
  • Motion menu window: As an option for those who want to dig deeper, this window will include a simple menu system for selecting and combining the unique motion-to-sound translation algorithms we have designed, as well as configuring how these translations are outputted via MIDI.
  • Presets menu window: Here you can load or save presets, which include all app settings (as well as user motion-to-sound translation configuration changes). In this window you will also be able to export or import these presets for sharing with other users on the AUUG cloud.

AUUG cloud:

Musicians are best able to hone their craft when they can share and learn from each other. The user-only AUUG cloud will be:

  • An online service at www.auug.com that allows AUUG app presets to be shared quickly and easily with other users via your iPhone or iPod touch (no laptop or desktop needed).
  • An online forum where users can share and discuss setup ideas and playing techniques.
  • An online platform for the core AUUG team to provide the latest product support, user guides, and video tutorials. Where possible ‘matched’ iOS app presets will also be provided: Many iOS audio apps allow the export/import of their own presets, so to make setup easier for our users we will share presets for these ‘target’ iOS apps. Once installed, these target app presets will rapidly configure the target app to be ‘played’ by the AUUG app in a specific way.
Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view

Production plan:

As the demonstrations in our Kickstarter video illustrate, the essential features of the AUUG Motion Synth are already working superbly. However, we have identified improvements that we think would significantly improve the device's effectiveness and ease of use. These improvements require funding, and we also need to make a sufficient volume of units (at least one thousand) for them to be affordable for our backers (through the use of relatively high up-front cost manufacturing methods). By using Kickstarter, we can also start incorporating user feedback as earlier in the process as possible to ensure we are meeting their needs. The planned improvements are:

  • AUUG grip: Refinement and user testing of the latching mechanism of the screen overlay and adjustable attachment mechanism of the strap, to improve long-term wear aesthetics and comfort. If demand for the AUUG Motion Synth is high we will use manufacturing methods better suited to higher volumes, including casting some of the aluminum parts (rather than die cutting), which will also allow more complex and customized parts to be included. The production timeline we have included (see above) takes into account the amount of time required to utilize these more advanced production techniques.
  • AUUG app: A comprehensive set of unique motion-sound translation algorithms have already been developed and tested, and now we plan to extend the AUUG app’s interface to include an easy to use menu system for configuring these translations and how they are outputted to other apps and devices.
  • AUUG cloud: The online preset-sharing method we have selected has been shown to work well on other platforms and now we need to implement this method on the AUUG cloud and AUUG app sides of the system.

  • 'Videoscrub' and 'Motion visuals' software: This is prototype mac software we developed and demonstrated in the first half of the Kickstarter video ('Videoscrub': 0.34 to 1.00 mins, and 'Motion visuals': 0.00 to 2.04 mins). We need to develop a more user-friendly interface for this software and improve the ease with which it can import content.

We are committed to making the Motion Synth the best device it can be for musicians. Clearly it is early days for the product and we still have to determine what aspects of the Motion Synth have the greatest appeal to musicians. Understanding this will help us best allocate available development resources, and if changes to this development roadmap are in the best interest of our users we are willing to shift priorities in order to best cater to their needs.

Our team:

Along this development journey a dedicated and diverse team has come together:

  • Industrial design and engineering: Working on the project from day one has been SGW Designworks (www.sgwdesignworks.com); a specialist team made famous in the Eric Ries bestseller ‘The Lean Startup” for their capacity to expertly select from a diverse range of manufacturing techniques to rapidly implement, test, and deliver high quality products.
  • Software design: Our expert programmers have deep experience in MIDI coding, digital audio, and audio/visual control interfaces (from work at industry-leading interface companies like Fairlight and SmartAV).
  • Passionate and determined leadership: Coordinating the team is Dr Joshua Young who created the original design, led initial development, and brings a founder's drive and dedication to the project. The AUUG project has evolved out of TripleThink, a start-up Joshua founded to focus exclusively on new human-computer computer interfaces, specializing in motion-based musical control.
  • Expert mentors: We are also extremely lucky to have two legends in music technology innovation providing guidance along the way: Peter Vogel, co-creator of the Fairlight CMI (the first commercially available digital sampler and musical sequencer, see www.petervogelinstruments.com.au ); and Roger Linn, creator of the first digital sample drum machine, designer of the Akai MPC60 and MPC3000, and widely considered to be the father of the modern drum machine (see www.rogerlinndesign.com ). 
Snapshots of the development process (starting at the top left and ending at the bottom right).
Snapshots of the development process (starting at the top left and ending at the bottom right).

Inspiration & development:

“….while my spine rattled in front of the bass speaker, for a brief moment I could see past the silhouettes and strobed cigarette smoke to a man onstage staring gravely at his laptop. Was he in the midst of making music, or worried like me that the heaving floor of this makeshift club was going to give way?....”

Long before establishing AUUG, Joshua Young’s neuroscience research led him to Berlin. His love of acoustic music, rooted in the very immediate connection between the musician and their instrument, was abruptly fried upon contact with Berlin’s visceral electronic music scene.

Frustrated that he couldn’t tell if the laptop musicians were generating their  music onstage or checking their email, he started tearing apart old music hardware to build interfaces that would give electronic musicians a more physical way of shaping their sounds – a more expressive kind of control that would be compelling for both them and their audience.

Early experiments with the AUUG Motion Synth included using an app only, whereby the player would grip their mobile device in their hand while playing the screen with their fingertips. This forced the player to continuously pay attention to adjusting their grip while changing orientations, and also reduced the dexterity with which they could trigger notes. This led to early prototypes of the AUUG grip that grasped the mobile device at its edges while ergonomically securing it to the hand. 

After many prototypes, we also realized that the lack of tactile feedback from the touch screen was reducing the accuracy with which notes could be triggered. Experiments with various means of adding tactile feedback to the screen were made before discerning that a hinged overlay with 'button windows' is both highly effective and convenient. 

Many other features of the physical design have gone through multiple iterations, and user feedback has been sought throughout in order to ensure that the system as a whole best serves the primary needs of musicians. 

Development of the AUUG app proceeded at the same time as that of the grip, which has helped to ensure that hardware and software features support each other at a deep level, rather than being adapted to each other and providing only superficial compatibility.

Kickstarter video musicians and content:

Introduction soundtrack: The second half of the video (2.12 to 4.17 mins) includes looped sections of ‘Silver Wheel’ (from the ‘Solar Driftwood’ album) by Australian band Cracked Actor.

Video musicians: The video musicians used the backing track as a basis to compose their own parts and performed them live during filming, while simultaneously controlling the motion-reactive visuals behind them (via Wi-Fi MIDI messages sent from the AUUG Motion Synth to laptop software and back-projected onto the screen behind them). Their estimated practice times can be found here.

Video performers and content (listed below in this left to right photo order)
Video performers and content (listed below in this left to right photo order)

The musicians and the sounds they played were:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Successful Kickstarter projects can run into fulfillment problems when backer numbers exceed the planned production capacity. For this reason we have planned different manufacturing scenarios that can cope with different levels of backer demand. The production timeline we have included is based on manufacturing methods that can produce high unit volumes, but that require a tooling phase prior to beginning production. We have also worked with our planned suppliers to ensure that our fabrication plans are not dependent on any materials or parts that are significantly limited in the speed with which they can be supplied.

Another challenge for Kickstarter projects is finding the right balance between product testing and speed of fulfillment. Insufficient product testing can actually increase effective fulfillment time, because of the time needed to replace flawed product units (i.e. units that include basic design or fabrication faults). We are seeking to get the right balance between product testing and speed of fulfillment by: (1) Having completed testing and refinement of the core features of the AUUG Motion Synth prior to launching on Kickstarter, (2) favoring fabrication methods that can incorporate design changes quickly, and (3) distributing test units early to beta users to rapidly catch any potential problems.

We also recognize that shipping and managing pledge information are big challenges in the Kickstarter fulfillment process. For this reason we are investigating bringing in two experienced partners to the fulfillment phase: Shipwire (shipping) and BackerKit (pledge management).

FAQ

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    17 backers

    If you share our vision and just want to help out - We salute you! We'll keep you posted on our progress in helping artists create motion-based sights and sounds!

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  • Pledge $68 or more
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    200 backers All gone!

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Get an AUUG Motion Synth (includes the AUUG grip, AUUG app, and AUUG Cloud). To identify your Motion Synth as belonging to the first batch ever made, the aluminum frame of your AUUG grip will include the mark 'KS14' (an abbreviation of Kickstarter, 2014). The AUUG Motion Synth will retail for $110 after all rewards have been shipped to our Kickstarter backers.

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  • Pledge $78 or more
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    25 backers

    OPPORTUNITY: Get an AUUG Motion Synth (includes the AUUG grip, AUUG app, and AUUG Cloud). To identify your Motion Synth as belonging to the first batch ever made, the aluminum frame of your AUUG grip will include the mark 'KS14' (an abbreviation of Kickstarter, 2014). The AUUG Motion Synth will retail for $110 after all rewards have been shipped to our Kickstarter backers.

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  • Pledge $105 or more
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    16 backers

    GOLD: Get a gold AUUG Motion Synth (includes the AUUG grip, AUUG app, and AUUG Cloud). The aluminum parts of your AUUG grip will receive a beautiful gold anodized finish (similar in color to the 'gold' iPhone). To identify your Motion Synth as belonging to the first batch ever made, the aluminum frame of your AUUG grip will include the mark 'KS14' (an abbreviation of Kickstarter, 2014).

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    Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $120 or more
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    20 backers

    DUET: Want to make music with a friend? Get two AUUG Motion Synth units (each including an AUUG grip, AUUG app, and AUUG Cloud access). These units will be identical to those in the $78 reward tier (including the ‘KS14’ mark). Note that both units will be designed to fit the right hand (see FAQ). The retail price for a single AUUG Motion Synth will start at $110.

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  • Pledge $219 or more
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    10 backers Limited (190 left of 200)

    GOLDRUSH: Get one of the first 200 gold anodized units ever made! Get a gold AUUG Motion Synth (includes the AUUG grip, AUUG app, and AUUG Cloud). The aluminum parts of your AUUG grip will receive a beautiful gold anodized finish (similar in color to the 'gold' iPhone). In addition to the 'KS14' mark, the aluminum frame of your AUUG grip will include an engraved serial number between 1 and 200, marking the order in which it rolled off the production line! We will try to ensure that the number between 1-200 that you receive matches your position in the sequence of pledges to this tier. If this is not possible, however, the 200 units will be randomly assigned to the 200 backers within this tier.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    6 backers All gone!

    PARTNERS & PATRONS: Would you like to work with us? Do you have a complementary product you think could be developed in tandem with the Motion Synth? Alternatively; perhaps you would like to meet the team, get access to early prototypes, have a training session with the founder, or get a customized Motion Synth? Get in touch and let us design a custom reward tailored to you!

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Funding period

- (29 days)