When musician Imogen Heap performs, she spends a significant portion of it not making music but zooming between instruments and the tech that controls them. "I wanted to create something where I could manipulate my computer on the move wirelessly so that music becomes more like a dance than a robotic act like pressing a button or moving a fader," she explains.
Starting about seven years ago, she began attaching lapel microphones to her wrists so she could make sound with wine glasses and not have to schlep microphones on tour or at festivals, cutting down on the hassle, weight and transport costs. This setup morphed into gloves which connected to a hub worn on the upper body; while complicated, she was finally able to untether her from her computer "humanize the missing bits of how I interact with technology in music."
She and a small team have now built a glove prototype which interacts with a computer remotely and uses hand gestures such as a finger point, a closed fist, a degree of bend in the fingers and even the distance between fingers. The Mi.Mu glove, as it's called, replaces playing a keyboard or pressing endless buttons. It is open source and really kind of fabulous. "I can use the stage as a playground," adds Heap. "When you see me play, not maybe every time because maybe it goes wrong or I go wrong, but when it works, when it's effortless and when your movement is part of the music, it's almost like a dance. It's so natural that the tech disappears."
They've launched a Kickstarter to make the leap from prototype to production you can check out here.
Music: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott