Although I am an English major, I have a second passion that I pursue on the side. It does a fair job of consuming a good majority of my time, whether I’m in my room, in my car, or on the internet. I absolutely love music. I understand that explaining how music makes people feel is a nearly inexplicable thing, and I recognize that sometimes words cannot do something justice, so I can’t hope to explain why I feel as strongly as I do. For some reason, ingrained deep within me, is a passion for playing, listening to, and sharing music.
So, of course, when I saw the musical Mi.Mu gloves, my heart nearly stopped.
There have been very few instances that have made me feel as hopeful for the world of music or the world of technology as the moment where I first watched a video of these gloves in action. The Mi.Mu gloves—often referred to as simply “the Gloves” with a capital “G”—are what I believe to the ultimate combination between digital technologies and the humanities (at least in the field of music). I have heard of nothing like them before and nothing like them since. They were developed by singer Imogen Heap and an incredible team made of the two heads of an “interactive arts technology” studio, a former NASA employee, a fashion designer, an “inertial movements unit” expert, an electronic textile expert, a professor of “computer music”, and musician-turned-software-engineer.
After I was done gawking at the team, I had to wonder what exactly these superstars of technology, music, and fashion had been gathered for, exactly. The Gloves are, as described on their website, “cutting edge experimental gestural music ware”. Simply put, they are musical gloves that produce electronic sound based on your hand movements when you wear them. They are very real, very unique, and very wonderful to think about. Essentially, they are a new type of instrument. Unlike many instruments, however, I think these gloves will be entirely accessible to anyone who had the ability to wear them and use their arms and hands. Rather than requiring users to learn and use a new set of skills, they simply require users to build upon motions that they (and their bodies) are already familiar with. These gloves have the power to put musical ability into anyone’s hands—quite literally!
Part instrument and part controller, the Gloves work because of the sensors carefully place around the wrist as well as on and in between the fingers. They sense arm and hand movements such as up and down motions, side-to-side motions, and even the making of a fist or the spreading apart of fingers. By syncing these types of movement to filters, pitch, and other controls on the computer, the user is allowed to quickly and remotely “access mapping inside the computer” over wi-fi, which gives freedom to create music through movement and flow. The result is a “change [in] the way we make music” electronically to have to process seem “more humanly” and happen “more naturally”. It creates unique sounds as well as a unique visual and audio combination event for live audiences.
The gloves are still a work in progress and have already been through many iterations. Through a KickStarter campaign, an earlier version of these gloves were available for purchase (although they no longer are). Eventually, Imogen hopes to create the perfect combination of software and hardware by making the coding open source for its users and the general public.
For more info and to see this incredible creation in action, watch the videos/read the article below, and visit their website at: http://www.imogenheap.co.uk/thegloves/