This theremin on steroids controls music, video, and lights through simple gestures

futuristic theremin meets kickstarter goal m ltone
A music tech guru out of Austin, TX., has invented an extremely versatile device that’s part theremin,  part synthesizer, and part visual controller called the M!lTone  (pronounced mill-tone). Developed by Milton Villeda, this Frankenstein monster of art and technology lets the user create music, as well as enabling manipulation of video, and lights, all with the wave of your hand. The device hit Kickstarter on August 9 with a $5,000 pledge goal, and it’s already funded, raising close to $6,300 with 26 more days left to go.

Related: This glitch lets you Rickroll any TV armed with a Chromecast

Like the theremins of old – eerie sounding instruments that measure the movements of the players hands to control characteristics like pitch and volume – the M!lTone requires no physical contact to control its parameters. But instead of the theremin’s ancient twin antenna design, the M!ltone is equipped with two ultrasonic sensors that allow the user to manipulate and control audio, lights, and video by using a reflective surface. Details are a bit mirky as to how these aspects will fit into the overall functionality, but Villeda’s main goal seems to be to unleash a barrel of creativity to let each user discover and decide what the M!ltone can do.

There are a number of very cool ways in which musicians and visual artists alike will be able to enlist the mad scientist gizmo. First off, there are three distinct modes: Discrete Air, Continuous Air, and Weighted Air. Discrete Air mode sounds like it might be the best bet for those looking to craft a melody or tune. The user can select from a preloaded bank of 200 scales culled from various cultures to add subtle changes to the piece’s mood. One can either use the M!ltone’s built-in speaker or hook it up to an amplifier.

Users can employ up to three voices with individually assignable wave types and note offsets to create truly unique compositions. One can even assign each voice to independent MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) channels, which will feed coded commands to synthesizers to create an ensemble with just one device. Not enough? Throw in a couple more M!ltones for some daisy-chaining madness.

Next comes the Continuous Air mode, the M!lTone feature that most closely resembles the oddball oscillations of a theremin. Users can choose from several popular wave types to manipulate, such as the sine, triangle, square, and saw which essentially allows for users to create their own synthesizer effects.

And finally there’s the Weighted Air mode, a blend of the Continuous and Discrete modes. Villeda explains on his Kickstarter page for the M!lTone that this “weighted hands-free mode nicely pitch-bends the notes in between a scale to the next note in the scale.” This mode also allows one to perform a “divebomb” effect. You can listen to what each of these strange player modes sound like below:

And if these three modes and their respective functionalities bore you, you’re in luck! The M!lTone is open-source and compatible with Arduino, an electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software that allows users to write their own code.

“There are countless projects online that can be modified to work with the M!lTone,” Villeda claims. “It is designed to be a simple and robust audio/electronics platform for musicians, hackers, electronic enthusiasts, and anyone willing to explore the world of audio synthesis.”

When his already successful campaign comes to a close, he plans to host a forum on his website where people can upload their versions of the M!lTone software, and download future releases of the source code. Villeda’s device can either run on a DC adapter, 9V battery, or solar power, and each completed device sits inside of a wooden enclosure with a “randomly selected exotic veneer.”

For those with a mind for electronics, and a wildly creative spirit, the M!lTone could be the perfect catalyst to take projects from the mild and mundane, into new realms of sight and sound.

Emerging Tech

Can a bracelet really let you control your dreams?

Like many tech products that emerge on crowdfunding platforms, Instadreamer is at once imaginative, intriguing, and somewhat suspect. The bracelet’s creators say their device will let users “take control of their dreams” by inducing…
Gaming

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Product Review

Invisible until you need it, SimpliSafe is a no-hassle way to watch your home

These days, there a lot of do-it-yourself home security systems out there. How do you choose? Simplisafe’s latest offering brings together beautiful hardware and the ability to customize your home security package. We do wish that we…
Product Review

From Wi-Fi to door locks, Samsung makes one box to connect your whole home

A collaboration with Plume ensures that Samsung SmartThings Wifi is quicker than its predecessor, but a lack of wired connectivity and fragmented controls means it’s not for everyone.
Music

Rapper Mac Miller has died at age 26

Rapper Mac Miller has died at age 26 of an apparent drug overdose, following a longtime struggle with substance abuse throughout his 20s. Miller was scheduled to begin a nationwide tour in October.
Music

Here are the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Apple

OPINION: Apple’s new iPhones show off its best tech, and also its greed

We’re just as enamored by the new iPhones as the next person, but with fast charging an extra cost and the removal of the headphone dongle it feels like Apple is gouging us on accessories.
Music

A wealth of rich tunes: Cash in with the best songs about money

There may not be as many songs about money as there are songs about love, but it's a close second. If you're looking for a skrilla-inspired playlist, check out our picks for the best songs about money.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Mobile

From true crime to comedy, here's our list of the best podcasts around

When you aren’t in the music mood, podcasts can be your ear candy. Whether you love to stay up-to-date on the latest news or want to know what’s happening in sports, you’ll find something on our must-listen-to podcast roundup.
Music

The best new music this week: Aphex Twin, Noname, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases. On tap this week: Fresh sounds from Aphex Twin, Noname, Black Belt Eagle Scout, The Goon Sax, and Slothrust.
Mobile

Google’s improvements to Sound Search will help it recognize songs better

Google has made some key improvements to how Sound Search works. By increasing the capacity of its machine learning algorithms, the company has made Sound Search faster and more accurate, especially in regards to more obscure songs.