Practical Considerations for MIDI over Bluetooth Low Energy as a Wireless Interface

Wang, Johnty and Mulder, Axel and Wanderley, Marcelo

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper documents the key issues of performance and compatibility working with Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as a wireless interface for sensor or controller data and inter-module communication in the context of building interactive digital systems. An overview of BLE MIDI is presented along with a comparison of the protocol from the perspective of theoretical limits and interoperability, showing its widespread compatibility across platforms compared with other alternatives. Then we perform three complementary tests on BLE MIDI and alternative interfaces using prototype and commercial devices, showing that BLE MIDI has comparable performance with the tested WiFi implementations, with end-to-end (sensor input to audio output) latencies of under 10ms under certain conditions. Overall, BLE MIDI is an ideal choice for controllers and sensor interfaces that are designed to work on a wide variety of platforms.