Holon.ist - User's Manual

Table of Content


Holon.ist is a mobile music platform, which we used to build Holon. Holon.ist allows advanced users to create their own musical mappings for real-world events and locations.


Notable features:

Holon.ist gathers sensor data, and routes it to any output using MIDI, OSC, or Pure Data. Control software and hardware instruments, even modular synths. With embedded libPD, you can create your own instruments and musical rules for places, sports, games, or anything involving movement and micromovements

Some Holon.ist scenarios:

When used passively, Holon.ist leaves your hands free for your conventional instruments, try controlling timbre and effects with your head (requires bandana, possibly keytar). Add a Movesense on your foot for pedal action anywhere.

Holon.ist, supports MIDI and OSC as well as a multiuser implementation of Ableton Link that allows collective sync of tempo, key and scale for every device on the network.


We compiled some demo patches, some documentation is available here

The main menu, accessible from the top right of the screen, allows you to use the store for In-App Purchases, or view the help pages


Sensors, either virtual or physical, gather data from the device on which Holon.ist is running, or from external devices such as Movesense, Apple Watch, as well as from internet sources, including local weather updates.

Current Device

Your host device is called /holonist/* in the list of sensors. Holon.ist gathers sensor data from the device and makes it available for processing and mapping.

Sensor types may vary depending on the device Holon.ist is running on, and can include: 9-axis (Acceleration, Gyroscope, Magnetometer), Sensor Fusion (Gravity, User Acceleration, Compass), Barometer, GPS, Altitude.

In addition, some data is retrieved from the Internet or computed and made available as virtual sensors. This includes weather and astronomical data, such as variables related to the Sun. The Moon is available for hippies.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch features 9-axis motion sensing (Acceleration, Gyroscope, Magnetometer), Sensor Fusion (Gravity, User Acceleration, Compass) and heart rate.

Apple Watch does not need to be configured, but the Apple Watch In-App Purchase, available from the main Holon.ist menu is required.

Upon purchase, close Holon.ist by pressing the Home key twice and by swiping the Holon.ist screen upwards. Reopen Holon.ist and ensure that the Apple Watch app has completed installation. Finally, ensure that the feature is activated in the list of sensors in Holon.ist.


Movensense provides 9-axis motion sensing (Acceleration, Gyroscope, Magnetometer), heart rate and temperature.

Movesense devices require pairing from the Movesense configuration page, under "Sensors". Pull down the list to start scanning, tap the desired device and tap the "Save/Forget" button.

To activate or reset a Movesense, pop the battery lid using a coin or similar, momentarily disconnect battery and put it back. Alternatively use the "HR-Wake" firmware from Movesense and just touch the pins at the back of the Movesense device!

Holon.ist requires firmware version 1.5 or greater to be running on your Movesense device. see Movesense Upgrade


Provides weather information for the current location.



Record postures from physical sensors, external or internal. You can use them as motion keyframes.


Tag custom locations (based on current GPS position) that output virtual sensor information, such as distance, heading and geofence parameters.


Movements can be mapped similarly to Postures. These include jumps and twists.


Mappings are the core feature of Holon.ist - it's where signals become musical parameters.

Mappings route signals from sensor values or processed values to any of the outputs.

The scaling tools allow you to constrain input values to a specific range and map it to the output range

Mappings allow for some simple processing, such as applying a cosine or sine transformation (very useful for compass and heading), or to transform the signal into a gate/binary signal.


Outputs are configured to receive and transmit the mappings.


The following options are available: RTP MIDI, BLE MIDI, USB MIDI.

MIDI CC's can be configured directly in the mapping itself. Make sure to use a suitable range (MIDI CC Min/Max is 0 to 127).

Note that MIDI is an In-App Purchase.

LibPD - Pure Data

Pure Data is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio processing. Holon.ist allows you to load up a PD Vanilla compatible patch and use it to do anything you would normally do with PD.

We've set up a demonstration patches that shows some of the features. You can find it in the list of presets. You can email/share this patch to yourself and inspect it on your computer, update it at will and ship it back to your iPhone.

Tip: It is possible to run the PD patch on your computer, sending the OSC information from Holon.ist and once happy, package the whole thing and send it to you phone (via email or AirDrop for instance).

The LibPd (Pure Data) implementation running in Holon.ist supports audio output, audio input, MIDI output, and OSC input and outputs.


There are two possible types of OSC outputs:

On top of this, OSC devices can be connected to in two ways :

VCV Rack & Holon.ist

Holon.ist and VCV Rack can interact and automatically discover each other.

Download our VCV module pack from: https://vcvrack.com/plugins.html#Holonic

The manual explains installation and more: https://github.com/hdavid/VCVRack-Holon.ist

Ableton Live & Holon.ist

Download Holonic Source.amxd

Using MaxForLive, Holon.ist can also send OSC/CV control signals to Ableton Live.

Our MaxForLive device works in a similar way to our VCV Rack implementation and can receive 8 channels from one bus per instance.

For now Autodiscovery to work on Windows, install Bonjour SDK from Apple.

Note that as Holon.ist supports MIDI, you could also use RTP MIDI over WiFi or MIDI over BLE to receive the CV controls in Ableton Live.


Sensor List

This list is useful for exploring the available data. Tapping an item copies it for further use as a mapping input. Tapping also selects it for viewing in the Graph screen.


View sensor data selected for graphing in the "Sensors" list.


Multiuser allows Holon.ist to negotiate feature distribution across Holon.ist devices on the same WiFi network. It uses mDNS (also known as Bonjour) to discover Holon.ist peers.

Ableton Link is available for tempo sync. Ableton Link requires manual activation initially, it can be found in the LibPD preferences.

You can also use OSC broadcast in the PD patch for Pure Data peer-to-peer communications.


Preset files contain all configurations as well as the Pure Data patch. Some settings, such as output configurations, are not included in the saved file.

Presets are just zip files. Renaming the extension name to .zip let's you inspect the contents.

Presets can be imported: email the preset file to yourself, open the email on your phone and tap the file icon. There is then an option to import the patch in Holon.ist.


Record raw data from the signal streams and play them back.


Application logs for debugging.

Known Issues

We are constantly working on improving Holon and Holon.ist, but there might be some glitches here and there.