Lunchtime talk write-up
Posted on Mon 8 May 2017
Making Music with mi.mu Gloves
Dom Brown is a PhD student at UWE studying Computer Science and Creative Technologies. mi.mu gloves started life as research project in 2011 with artist and founding director Imogen Heap.The gloves have developed from…
The gloves have developed from the 5DT gloves, which used to have a back harness. They have since made smaller and smaller iterations, arriving now at the mi.mu gloves, where all of the tech is concealed within the gloves themselves. Inside the gloves are motion sensors, haptic motors, LED for feedback and circuit boards which send data over Wi-Fi.
Five Things I’ve Learned
1. Why use mi.mu gloves? Electronic music has a bit of a reputation for not being very entertaining to watch, especially if the artist is stuck twisting knobs and pushing faders behind a laptop. mi.mu gloves allows the artist to break free from the shackles of a mixing desk and conduct the music through a series of movements and gestures.
2. How do the gloves work? There hasn’t been anything like the gloves that’s come before to base the usability and sound on, however Dom sees this as a great creative opportunity. The gloves don't have to conform to the same movements as an instrument and movements can be mapped to suit the needs of the performer.
3. The gloves work with specially written software called Glover, which it takes the raw data collected from gloves and triggers midi sounds. The gloves can also be used with other music producing software such as Ableton Live and Logic. This works well for those who are already familiar with these music software packages.
4. Dom demonstrated how the software uses machine learning to recognise movements as certain gestures. Dom tells the machine this is a fist/open hand over and over to teach machines the postures. The user can then map what triggers with each gesture, for example a fist could mean note on and an open hand note off.
5. Dom addressed the issue of a wide range of users not being able to afford a pair of gloves and he is exploring other avenues such as using existing tech such as Xbox Kinetic to make the technology more accessible. Glover was originally written for the gloves, but the latest version is written to be flexible with more devices.
For some musicians there may be a steep learning curve, they may lose interest in using the gloves and so more thorough research will benefit the users interaction with the gloves and shape the balance between making it too complex to use and too simple to the point where it feels more like a musical toy.
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Dom is currently doing a 3-month research project studying how musicians use Glover, tracking Glover use through time, if you would like to get involved contact Dom at firstname.lastname@example.org