I.C.E. Kinect DAW Controller

I.C.E. = Interactive Control Environment is a DAW Controller (Digital Audio Workstation Controller). It uses Kinect for hand-tracking. It uses Quartz Composer and Obj-C as its core. It supports both OSC and MIDI. Intended Usage : Kinect + Augmented Reality Glasses (I used a normal projector for demonstration purposes).

Possible Usage Fields

  • Recording Studio, DAW – Recording
  • Broadcast Studio, Signal Routing
  • Concert Audio, Live Mixing
  • Concert Lights, DMX / CUE Control

Click here to download my band’s “Another Day In Paradise” (by Phil Collins) cover, mixed using ICE.

Functions List / How to use ICE

Left Hand – Channel Selected

  • Right hand Y Axis = Volume
  • Right hand X Axis = Pan
  • Right hand Z Axis = Reverb or Comp (Assignable & Only works in ICE Live)
  • Rec Arm, Input Monitoring, Solo, Mute, EQ, Compressor, Reverb = Activated & Deactivated with right hand.

Left/Right Hand Modifier

  • Level Protection (L/R Hand Modifier) (ex :
Left hand over Channel 1 -> Right hand Vol 50%,
Channel 2 Vol 70%
If you move your left hand to channel 2, its volume level won’t change to 50%.
However if you move your right hand up, it’ll ADD to its volume.
  • Group Clutch (L/R Hand Modifier) (ex :
If you’re in a concert, and if you want to pull all faders down,
you can override Level Protection for Group Clutch by moving your left hand out of the channel, and back over the channel once. This will activate group clutch. After this, you can keep your right hand at Vol 10%, and just by moving your left hand over channels, all channels’ levels will be set to 10%.
  •  Right Hand False Activity Protection (L/R Modifier) (ex :
While your right hand is on the move, if you think you moved a fader by accident, moving your left hand out of the channels box will bring the old setting back. So to set the volume to the desired amount, you have to move your left hand out of the channels box, while you’re holding your right hand still. – this is not time-based. So the application adapts you. quicker you are, quicker the application)

EXIT Button

  • EXIT button also works as an arm-rest. so if your arms are tired, and there is nothing else you need to do, holding your hands on the EXIT button, one by one, will stop tracking them.
  • Holding both of your hands on EXIT, mutes all channels. (emergency feedback protection)

Evolution of ICE

ICE v1.0


The first design had the transport bar on the top. I don’t usually go back in the project that often, so I thought placing the transport bar higher wouldn’t be a big problem. I placed the channels on the left, and spread the function buttons. The biggest problem was the “click” we’re all used to from the mouse. I don’t like clicking because I felt it’s not natural. In nature, you can’t just click and watch things happen, so I spent a lot of time thinking how I can use both hands, and reduce or even remove the “click”. I utilized a modifier-key system. When the left hand is over channel 1, the right hand’s Y adjusts the volume and X adjusts panning. (A new experimental feature : Z adjusts the reverb) It feels extremely natural, because it’s lifelike. It’s just like you’re holding the source and moving left-right or moving it away from you so you start to hear the reverb/delay and the room effect.

I used the first prototype for a week to note down what worked and what did not. I found myself escaping from the transport bar, because it’s harder to reach. Channels did feel right, but because of the general sensitivity it was hard to hold my hand over a channel while I’m adjusting something with my right hand. I changed the entire layout.

ICE v2.0

I removed the top bar, used a different channel-layout, made the function buttons a little bit smaller, and gained some space for the “concert feed” (possible future implementation, using AR-Glasses). Now, I don’t have to reach up to the top bar and the transport buttons are in a less-tiring place. Channels 5/13 – 6/14 – 7/15 – 8/16 are not that high now, so I have happier left arm muscles now. I realized, I didn’t actually use the Bus Channels that much in the first rough/raw record – I removed the bus channels.

The second design feels natural, fast, and overall more efficient than the first one. After using the first two prototypes a few times, ideas flooded my brain. I noticed that ICE feels better this way. Unlike a normal desktop DAW Controller, ICE didn’t require any special knowledge because it feels incredibly natural without ‘clicking’, and I’m physically involved; controlling the rough mix by pushing the sources away, or moving them left-right; focusing on the sound rather than focusing on faders/potentiometers. I can hear small details better with ICE than mixing with normal desktop controllers where I felt like a technician, left out, not a part of the mix. However, mixing with ICE, I feel like I’m a conductor, and I’m a part of the record/mix.

Other Possible Implementation Fields

  1. This system can also be used in concerts. With AR-Glasses, you can select the player with your left hand, and adjust the volume/pan/reverb with your right hand.
  2. This system can also be used as a light-cue controller/DMX  in concerts or other events. With your left hand, you can select light-groups, and with your right hand you can turn them on/off or adjust their brightness. Even more, you can control a big intelligent light rig, like a DMX. You can select a light with your left hand, and move it with your right hand.

WHY : I – C – E ?

Because ICE is not just a standard DAW Controller, and it can be used to control other things, I thought it won’t be a bad idea to add “Environment” to it’s name.
So I named it : ( I ) nteractive ( C ) ontrol ( E ) nvironment – I.C.E.
And, well, I wanted the GUI to support the name, so it also has a icy look, and the logo is an ice cube.