Wind Synthesizer R1 Becomes Finalist of 2022 MIDI Innovation Awards

The MIDI Association (MMA) is non-profit organization based in California. The association serves musicians around the world by making MIDI specifications.

With the purpose of  encouraging music tech innovation, MIDI Innovation Awards is the most professional and official event in this field. The award of 2022 is organized by MMA, NAMM (the biggest musicasl instrument show), and Music Hackspace. Over 100 entries were admitted and allocated into 5 categories  to compete for the finals.


Therefore, the award was indeed, full of professional and talented developers. They were either companies with industrial recognition, or individuals with unique ideas. For example, Moog brought a mobile sound design tool, Animoog Z, as a high-end hardware maker. In “Non-commercial Hardware” category, someone made a knitted keyboard that can be played in air or shape bended:



Back to “Commercial Hardware”, this “3 out of 32” game was entered by too many innovative candidates. Roli brought its famous Seaboard RISE 2, while ODD Ball, 1010music nanobox, DigitAize Smart Violin were all examples of great innovations.



From May 1st to 14th, over 6600 people around the global each selected 3 entries as potential finalists. The public opinion was weighted half, as the other half was given to judges of the awards.


To a lot of people’s surprise, a team from China defeated many reputable brands and made it to the finals of “Commercial Hardware”, beating highest elimination rate. The team is Robkoo with its Wind Synthesizer R1. It is worth mentioning that due to the connection issues from mainland China, the team was unable to utilize its domestic fan base, but received help from overseas Chinese musicians and digital wind instrument communities.



Looking back to the reason of this  success, many would approach from the criteria of awards. According to the terms & conditions, there were 4 aspects to assess: Innovation, Inspiring / surprising, Interoperability, Practical / commercial viability.
Speaking of  Innovation, inspiring and surprising, the giant RGB lights on R1’s body combined with motion control makes a futuristic playing experience. Watching the lights breath with you while modulating the sounds with your motions, it would become clear why R1 is the next-generation instrument.


In terms of interoperability, R1 as a self-sufficient instrument can be connected through cable or bluetooth to control other sound sources. A delicated APP experience is also provided. When it comes to commercial viability, R1 is one of the few entries that has an advantage, because of it potential in education and nursing.


However, fulfilling the criteria does not guarantee a place in the finals at all. Oscar Xie, CEO of Robkoo says:”Nowadays the MIDI technology has far less impact to the public than USB or Bluetooth. The underlying restriction is not being general enough. Very few teams in China are able to develop MIDI software/hardware.” Indeed, if you ask somone who knows “MIDI”, “what comes to your mind when you hear the word MIDI?”, the person is very likely to answer “MIDI keyboard” or “launchpad” – gears specifically made for digital musicians.


Among the 32 entries in “Commercial Hardware”, almost 1/3 were keyboard products, with most of the rest made for professionals. This phemomenon is common to other categories as well. In fact, R1 is almost the only finalist that concerns freshers. The existence of R1 reminds people that MIDI is for everyone. Only when MIDI gets adopted by the general public, will there be a true environment for a blast of innovation.


The continuous quarantine condition in Shanghai city made every job of Robkoo harder, while the good news from the awards helped the team and its fans move forward.