I think the common thing these instruments have, which I both like and dislike is that they’re to some degree “controllers”, and not “instruments”. Something which I think a lot of musicians and inventors rightfully confuse. I think the problem is, everyone still trying to use electricity and sensors as the main selling point of the instrument, forgetting that sensors have a limit. A limit that’s hard to perceive but still an electrical limiter, and because of these limits, by inventing instruments with these electrical limits, they’re limiting the functions of their instruments too.
No hand gesture controller can be like a guitar, which you can even use as a percussion to hit it’s body, or remove its frets to get different sounds, or play its strings with a bow and get different sounds, etc. The reason these “controllers” are limiting I think is because the level of mastery is not high enough, and producing original material is the biggest challenge.
As an excited geek, I love the idea of using gestural controllers, but I think what these instruments are lacking is that they’re trying to turn the whole human body itself to an instrument. While, the successful old instruments are “played” with the human body. (and not the human body itself)
I’m speaking of the gestural ones of course. The ones that use gloves. or sensors on face. etc.
The rest, I think are cool ideas, but either lacked marketing, or availability, and I think pushing new instruments forward is not enough on its own, if no early adopters are helping it get better. Taking reactable as an example, without Björk and other notable musicians adopting it, reactable would be a cool instrument without anyone playing and carrying it even further. Same with piano. Because players loved its sound, and its layout, they wanted to be able to carry it around, and they’ve created digital portable versions of it. Although I’m not speaking about portability itself, I just wanted to give an example of how players and adopters can carry an instrument further too. I think we should focus more on “real sounds” rather than computer generated sounds. Even if they’re generated with the help of digital tools, the sounds would still have the unique dynamics, and the player factor in them, and there would be a greater chance in improving the already existing playing methods/instruments or creating new and unique instruments.