Gloves That Will Bring Music to Your Ears…and Hands
One of the best ways to start the wearable technology revolution is with a good pair of gloves. Not just any gloves though — really really high tech gloves (Minority Report anyone?).
Imogen Heap, famed English singer-songwriter and composer, is diving head first into the exciting world of wearable devices with Mi.Mu — a glove that will change the way you make music, and possibly much more. Imogen has already showcased the glove at a number of reputable organizations, including TED, Wired, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Mi.Mu is a glove intended to facilitate the creation of music with gesture control, steering musicians away from dials and computer screens. Move your hand up and the pitch shifts to a heavenly choir, extend your index finger to add some reverb, or snap your palm shut to bring everything to a silent halt. The glove literally makes the phrase, “at the touch of a button,” obsolete — no buttons required.
“Sometimes touching a fader, pressing a button or hunching over a laptop just feels flat. It’s always frustrated me that the bits involving computers and technology never correlated to the sounds and effects being created” – Imogen Heap
Specifically, the glove is able to capture the orientation of the users hand, the flex of the fingers, hand posture (open or closed fist), the direction of the hand, and sharp events — such as a drum hit. Thousands of gesture combinations are mappable using the included software, which the team has agreed to make open-source upon completion of their Kickstarter campaign.
“If I am making a fist with my right hand, and pointing downwards with my left hand, map the ‘roll’ of my right wrist to MIDI control change message 60 on channel 2”.
Imogen and her team have been passionately developing the project for the past several years as a “labor of love”. It all started when Imogen visited the MIT Media Lab back in 2010 where she saw a researcher manipulating data with a glove-like device. Since then, the team of musicians, artists, engineers, and scientists have built on existing research from the University of the West of England. The original prototype was large and expensive with lots of wires, but over the past 18 months, the group has managed to condense the technology down to a simple and respectable sized glove with built-in Wi-Fi circuitry. While the group admits that they have not created the first data gloves, they do state that they have created a significantly more convenient form, primarily targeted to artists and musicians — their earliest supporters.
“The date the focus of the Mi.Mu has been in the music and arts world. The opportunity for the glove in this space are many: to turn electronic music events into visually engaging performances; to allow a band to travel with less equipment and “load” instruments onto the glove; to allow a musician with one hand to play the piano with the glove and sound as if both hands are at work — to name a few.”
Surely such a device could be opened up for other exciting uses, which the team confirmed to Wearable Devices Magazine via email: “The team is opening up discussions now with the right communities to explore those opportunities. They include deaf people using the glove to turn American Sign Language motions into sound; doctors using the glove during training to have audio cues guide their hands during an exam or surgery; and virtual reality games making use of the glove as well as goggles such as the Oculus Rift to make experiences more immersive”
From the medical perspective, I can see Mi.Mu integrating well with patients who suffer from hearing loss, blindness, autism, tremors, and a variety of other illnesses. In daily life, perhaps the glove could be combined with smart glasses which could then be used to control a vehicle or journey through augmented reality. Indeed, the possibilities for gesture control are only limited by ones wildest imagination.
A device that was once thought science fiction is quickly approaching reality this December, when the team hopes to have the first batch of gloves available to their Kickstarter backers. At the time of this article, the campaign has raised over £80,000 (about $134,000) from 521 backers, with a goal of £200,000 and 8 days remaining. Check out the Mi.Mu Kickstarter campaign and tell us what you think.