We are thrilled with the response to our campaign and so grateful to Kickstarter and everyone who put their faith in us and pledged towards our project. Collectively, you have formed the beginnings of the Mi.Mu community. While we didn't make our funding goal, we have found a way to move forwards by working with smaller groups, starting with our Collaborators. If you have backed this project in any way, we will stay in touch with you directly through Kickstarter as the project evolves.
You can keep an eye on our progress and sign up for our mailing list at http://www.mimu.org.uk. There you'll find all the latest news and information about all Mi.Mu system hardware, software, workshops, demos, and the community forums. We look forward to continuing the adventure with you!
The Opportunity: Forging a path into the future of Music
The time has arrived! We are making the first Mi.Mu gloves available to people who want to work with us to shift the paradigm of how music is made and performed. This Kickstarter campaign has been designed to take us from where we are now, having created a self-funded, elaborate, and wildly successful gestural music system with and for Imogen Heap, to finalising a design that can be open-sourced, allowing everyone access to the power of glove.
Why Gloves for Music?
Most of us on our small team are musicians who are tired of being stuck behind computer screens, keyboards, faders, knobs, and buttons to make our music. We feel there could be a better way that is more like the experiences we have with traditional instruments: using the dexterity and mobility of the human body.
Imagine, for example, that instead of turning up a fader in order to bring in a sound or add reverb, you could be raising your arms to achieve the same effect. Or to move a sound around the room, you could simply point where you want it to be. Not only is this much more intuitive, it is also more enjoyable to watch, making it easier for your audience to connect with what you're doing. Our aim is to break down the barriers between musicians and machines, and between performers and audiences. Every musician and/or performer will know the bane of their existence is to have to carry, or worse, ship vast amounts of technological equipment to whatever destination they are playing. The gloves are a compact, lightweight and self-contained system requiring little more than a laptop to function fully.
What Exactly Can the Gloves Do?
The gloves capture the movements and postures of your hands. Our software allows this information to be mapped to musical control messages which can then be easily routed to your favourite music software.
Specifically, the gloves track the following:
The orientation of your hand
The “flex” of your fingers
Your current hand posture (e.g. fist, open hand, one finger point)
The direction (up, down, left, right, forwards, backwards) of your hand
Sharp movements such as drum hits
This information is transmitted wirelessly to your computer, over WiFi (via the x-OSC board on the wrist).
In order to turn this information into music, we have developed software allowing you to “map” glove data to musical control signals (e.g. MIDI and OSC). The software also allows you to combine glove inputs to make complex controls. For example, the software would allow you to program the following:
“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”.
This ability of the software to combine postures and gestures for mapping, combined with other innovative technological advances, means there are literally thousands of independently mappable controls with one pair of gloves (!) - more than most MIDI controllers on the market - all without having to even look at a screen during performance. You can create multiple parallel mappings, switch between sets of mappings, and load and save your projects to share or develop them over time. Finally, you can use the software to listen out for other inputs, as well, further increasing the richness of control and expressive mappability with your favourite music software.
In the following video, Imogen explains some of the mappings she has made to sounds in Ableton Live:
How you can get involved - a bit about the pledges
* Mi.Mu Backer Benefits
All of our backers will together form the nexus of the Mi.Mu community. Pledging at any level will earn you the following Mi.Mu Backer Benefits:
A Streemliner download of Imogen Heap’s first glove song, Me The Machine, off her forthcoming album, Sparks, with the music video, beautiful cover art and video extras, including making-of footage.
Special early access to the software source code, on-line tutorials, and community forums approximately a year before they become widely available to the public
Custom settings and patches made by our team, our collaborators, and our partners such as Spectrasonics Omnisphere
A thank-you on our website
Special backers-only events such as invitation-only on-line Q&A sessions with Imogen and the Mi.Mu team
We will be offering a limited number of Mi.Mu team-led workshops that can be attended either in person or virtually. These workshops will be focused on assisting our backers either with making/assembling their own gloves or using them in their own unique ways. The £200 pledge level does not include the kit, materials or costs of travel/accommodation to the workshop locations. Exact workshop dates and locations are still to be determined, but will likely be primarily in London or Bristol. A limited number of workshops might be specially arranged elsewhere, depending on demand and team availability.
Kits (currently being redesigned to be even better, hence temporarily unavailable)
Due to popular demand, we have added a new and improved DIY option that comprises everything you will need to build a functioning glove. You can choose whether to get it with or without the custom textile glove, giving you maximum flexibility for making it your way. Both kits will function fully when assembled with the Mi.Mu Glove software.
Kit Electronics include:
one x-OSC IMU (accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope) and wireless OSC-over-wi-fi device
flex sensors: an analog bend sensor kit
output devices: one RGB LED and one vibration motor
a custom Input/Output board to connect sensors and feedback devices to the x-OSC
a power source, other peripherals, and all necessary cabling for charging and connecting sensors between glove and circuitboards
The Mi.MuTextile glove features:
A design with open fingertips and open palms
Pockets or pouches for all electronics listed above including bend sensors on top of knuckles
Pouches for circuitboards
Wristband and the means for attaching it to glove
Easy removal of electronics for washing
The Gloves - A Very Short History
The gloves are the product of years of research and development, building upon original research at University of the West of England. The project was initiated and continues to be driven by musician Imogen Heap along with a team of engineers, scientists, artists and musicians.
A number of iterations of the gloves have been designed, aimed predominantly at producing a gestural performance system for Heap. Some details about the evolution of the project over the last few years can be seen on our Glove Project Blog. This culminated in a performance system which can be seen in footage from some of Imogen's demos and performances.
While the system was incredibly powerful and expressive, it was also incredibly complex to set up. It required the attention of a team of people, not to mention the days of intense advanced MIDI routing and Ableton Live programming to create the mappings and session used in Imogen's first glove song, Me The Machine, which is included with many of our Kickstarter pledges.
We wanted everyone to have the experience of being inside these gloves without as much of the complexity in Imogen's original system. We wanted to make a wireless glove that almost any musician could adapt to their way of making music. The last 18 months have seen re-design after re-design of the glove textiles, hardware and software and we have finally arrived at a point where we can make them available to others through this Kickstarter.
Don't Data Gloves Already Exist?
Gestural data interface have
been around for decades and have been used for many different
applications (see our review of other glove systems). We are certainly not the first to attack this problem,
even for music, but we have a unique approach that's already more
affordable than others and tailored for the thing we care about most:
music! We dream of this technology soon becoming accessible to all
musicians everywhere. Getting from here to there will take quite a bit
of work, but we've already made great progress and look forward to a
leap forward with this Kickstarter.
Imogen Heap (@imogenheap) is a British eclectic, eccentric and innovative recording artist. Her talent spans from the craft of songwriting to elaborate live multi-instrumental improvisations with electronics, building on a unique voice, classical training and unusual interest and command of technology which is fully explored within and outside of her musical projects. Self-produced, independent, engaged, she blurs the boundaries between pure artform and creative entrepreneurship. Heap's last album, Ellipse, earned her a Grammy and Ivor Novello award. This summer marks the release of Sparks, her fifth and most ambitious album to date, which includes the glove song, Me the Machine. This year Imogen is the guest artist-curator for Reverb Festival, held at the iconic London venue the Roundhouse. The eagerly awaited Sparks world tour will begin at Reverb in August 2014.
Rachel Freire (@RachelFreire) is a designer and artist with an eponymous conceptual fashion label specialising in leather and stretch materials. Her work focuses on intricate details and using tactile objects to create narratives. She works across disciplines in all aspects of design which concern clothing and the body. She has a BA in Design for Performance from Central St. Martins and has most recently been creating specialist leather and gloves for Marvel Studios, lending the futuristic aspects of her design work to the heroines and villianesses of the big screen. She now feeds all this into the world of musical gloves.
Adrian Lausch (@AdrianRender) has been a project manager for as long as he can remember. What started with happy little school projects, soon turned into semi-voluntarily coordinating teams while at university. After a stint in 3D graphics, IT support, print design, film post production, localisation, games QA and working as a stud hand he eventually became a technical project manager in digital and mobile advertising. He managed multiple international and award winning advertising campaigns using the most cutting edge technologies and platforms available at the time. With music being his 6th industry, traversing the chasms between different fields of expertise is one his main hobbies and hopefully skills.
Seb Madgwick (@xioTechnologies) is the director of x-io Technologies, making wireless IMUs and custom electronics. He is also finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Bristol this year, just in time to dive in to some serious glove development! His background is in systems engineering and robotics but he now spends more time collaborating with artists and creative technologists.
Thomas Mitchell (@teamaxe) is a computer scientist,
researcher and electronic musician lecturing computer music at the
University of the West of England, Bristol. His interests cover many
aspects of adaptive sound design and interactive music
performance/composition. He enjoys working with artists and has a
genuine passion for developing technology that enables new modes of
interaction and expression. His recent work includes the interactive dance and music multimedia installation and performance system danceroom Spectroscopy.
Hannah Perner-Wilson is a futuristic DIY e-textile expert who combines conductive materials and craft techniques. She is developing new styles of building electronics that emphasize materiality and process, and publishes her research online to support her vision for “electronic diversity” or increasingly personalized technologies. She holds a BA in Industrial Design from the University for Art and Industrial Design, Linz and an MA in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab and forms the collective KOBAKANT with Mika Satomi.
Kelly Snook (@kellysnook) is a researcher, engineer, musician, and maker based in London but transplanted from the US, where she spent nearly two decades as a NASA researcher. After leaving NASA, she worked for several years as Imogen Heap’s musical assistant, and now freelances as an independent data sonification researcher and music producer at her recording studio, It’s Not Rocket Science Studios. She holds a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.
Adam Stark (@mostlynoise) is a researcher, computer scientist and musician based in London. In 2011 he completed his Ph.D. at Queen Mary University of London on digital signal processing and audio analysis in live musical performances and installations. He subsequently co-founded the arts-technology education studio Codasign. He is interested in changing the way music is composed and performed through new technologies. He can be found working with artist Di Mainstone on the Human Harp, using audio analysis with artists in live performances or playing with London-based six piece band Rumour Cubes.
How Does The Glove Work?
We have spent years researching the design of our gloves. Some key examples of features are the bare palms (for hand claps) and fingerless gloves (to allow performing using instruments). More subtly, we have refined the glove to make sure it fits well, is robust to extended use and, well, looks amazing!
Sensor Technology and x-OSC Board
The gloves are fitted with a number of sensors. Firstly there are bend sensors along the fingers which detect the bend or “flex” of the fingers in real-time.
The glove is also loaded with our secret weapon: x-OSC (designed by Tom and Seb). This board has input pins for the bend sensors, output pins to update the LED and vibration motors, and, best of all, an on-board IMU (motion/orientation sensors) to enable real-time gesture detection. Finally, the x-OSC sends all this data over Wi-Fi, making your glove immediately compatible with any Wi-Fi enabled computer.
What's more - one glove can send and receive data between multiple WiFi-enabled devices at once.
Our custom software is designed to handle this incoming data and make sense of it. Using machine learning algorithms, the software can use the bend sensor information to “learn” a number of different hand postures (e.g. fist, open hand or one finger point). It also converts the orientation and acceleration data into Open Sound Control.
The software allows you to turn the input data from the glove into MIDI or OSC messages which can be listened to by third party software (e.g. Ableton Live, Logic Pro or Max/MSP).
The software includes several glove “instruments”. This will include a “Drum machine” allowing you to map drum hit gestures to MIDI messages which can be sent to a drum sampler of your choice. Another instrument is the “note matrix”, which divides the orientation of your hand into regions and triggers different notes across a scale as you move. This will be sent by MIDI and you can use any soft-synth to turn them into sound. Gradually, new instruments will be created and shared by the growing community as our collaborators and kickstarter pledgers follow pursue their own musical dreams.
Whole sections of songs can be mapped differently to allow for intuitive and seamless transitions between different song sections or sets. Information from the music or glove software can be sent back to the gloves in the form of LED colors or vibration motor activation to provide the user with visual and tactile feedback about what's happening inside the software, without needing to watch a computer screen.
We are very excited to see what our budding new community will create with the gloves. Already, we have been blown away by what a small number of workshop participants, makers, and glove testers have done with some of our earliest development prototypes. We expect this to grow quickly as people get their hands in the Mi.Mu gloves.
We are currently working away on the upcoming Mi.Mu community page! In the meantime, you can connect with us on social media, read interviews and reviews via Mi.Mu twitter, start a discussion via our facebook page, join our mailing list on mimu.org.uk and read about the past incarnations and development of the gloves on theglovesproject.com.
Mi.Mu Glove Kickstarter Production Plan
As stated above, the threefold purpose of this campaign is to raise enough capital and involve enough people so that we may take our glove hardware and software design to the next level, optimising it for widespread use.
Towards that end, our campaign consists of five main phases:
We have been in discussions with our UK electronics manufacturer and our textile manufacturer in France and through this we have received initial costings for glove production. In the first phase of the Kickstarter delivery, we will continue to work with these manufacturers to turn our final prototype into a glove ready for production. This will involve breaking the glove into two separate textile and electronics components which can be easily put together to make the main glove. We will also be continuing bug testing on the software to ensure it is fully featured and stable by August 2014.
Phase 2 - Working with Collaborators to refine the Mi.Mu beta glove hardware and software design (beginning August, 2014)
We will make the very earliest pairs of Mi.Mu prototype gloves available to just 10-20 Collaborators by August 2014. The small number of gloves ensures we can provide extra support and put in the time required to learn as much as possible from the Collaborators, refining the design with them as they contribute to our project.
These new systems will include a pair of gloves based on our existing textile design, our new x-OSC-based sensors and communications, new prototype I/O boards, and a similar suite of sensors, LEDs, vibration motors as have been featured in all of our prototypes.
Our software will also be made available and demonstrated to each collaborator so they understand how to connect it to their music software.
Phase 3 - Delivering the Mi.Mu gloves and software (December, 2014)
Having worked closely with our collaborators, refining our gloves and software in phase 2, we will press "Go" on the main production run for glove Kickstarter pledgers, aiming for delivery in December 2014. We will also publicly release our software for all glove users on our website.
Accompanying this will be a suite of video tutorials explaining everything from how to set your glove up for the first time all the way to using some more advanced features of our software.
Phase 4 - Supporting the new Mi.Mu Kickstarter glove community, (December, 2014 - mid 2015)
With all gloves delivered, we will continue to work with our community of glove-musicians, ensuring that our software is maintained and broadened.
Phase 5 - Post Kickstarter
With the Kickstarter complete, we will build on what we have learned and explore wider scale production plans, perhaps making the gloves available to a wider audience than our initial Kickstarter supporters.
Our glove software and hardware will be made open source upon the completion of the Kickstarter.
A Full Musical Performance
Imogen has demonstrated the gloves at a number of conferences over the last few years, including TED University (2011), Music Matters in Mumbai, India (2011), Wired UK (2012), TED Global (2012) and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Some of these demos included a full-length performance of her first song written with the gloves, called Me the Machine.
In the video below, everything that you hear is being performed live by Imogen using the gloves.
This ability of the software to combine postures and gestures for mapping means there are literally thousands of independently mappable controls with one pair of gloves - more than almost any MIDI controller on the market - all without having to even look at a screen during performance.
Risks and challenges
1. Technical Challenges
Designing a glove for music that can be sent across the world to a few hundred people is a great challenge. The glove must be robust to transportation and extended use by the user. While this is not simple, we are confident it is something we can deliver.
We have spent 4 years developing a fully-functioning musical glove, which exceeded our expectations as a proof-of-concept prototype of both hardware and software. Imogen and the team have demonstrated the full system in public many times and used it to produce the song Me the Machine on her latest album 'Sparks'.
We have since refined the design further thanks to our experience and some breakthrough technologies developed by the team. The current design is now a simpler and more stable system than at any point in the past.
On this journey, we have created many different iterations of these gloves, sometimes bring in other talented makers, musicians, and multimedia artists to improve the industrial design, software and robustness for real world applications along the way. Before coming together as Mi.Mu we all spent our lives pursuing academic and creative endeavours that ultimately led us here. We are specialists in wearable technology, live performance, audio engineering, project management, hardware design and advanced software development. We have already encountered many unique challenges and setbacks on our journey and learned to adapt quickly and efficiently. We are confident that we are well prepared for tackling the next big step for the gloves.
2. Kickstarter Delivery
We believe we have set our Kickstarter goals and pledge limits in a way that produces a Kickstarter project that is manageable both in terms if its size and scope, given the size of our team. We have meticulously costed the necessary personnel, materials and other costs to help us deliver on all pledges in a timely manner. Our team also includes a number of people who have (or continue to) run companies and have managed large scale projects in the past.
We have modeled over 20 different possible outcomes to the Kickstarter in terms of pledge combinations and goals and we are confident we can deal with all eventualities.
We are working as fast as we can to get you some additional technical detail on the glove's hardware and software. Stay tuned for an update soon featuring a table comparing the features of some of the different gloves you may have seen over the years and their software. We will have to be somewhat vague about the final kickstarter design because we will be using what we learn with our collaborators during this campaign to refine the final design. However, we can (and will, please be patient!) provide you with endless detail about Imogen's original system, as well as some of the versions we worked on during development. If you want to know something specific, please ask!
What we can say is that the final kickstarter gloves (the £1200 per glove pledge levels) will have full x-OSC orientation and drum hit capability, independent finger bend detection, hand posture training and recognition, the capability for LED and vibration motor feedback, and a black textile glove designed to fit well and perform robustly as a musical instrument. Our ten collaborators will have a custom-made beta version of this glove and will have a choice of color. Our software has been completely redesigned to reduce the number and complexity of programs that are needed for the gloves. They will pair and communicate directly with your computer via wi-fi without unnecessary faff. Stay tuned for more details about general glove technical capabilities over the coming days.
Mi.Mu SUPPORTER -- You love the gloves and we love you. For your support, you'll receive a download of the first song ever written and performed using the gloves by our very own Imogen Heap, plus bonus videos and artwork. This is delivered in Streemliner format, a fancy audiovisual download of the single, artwork, music video, and video extras. We will add a big thank-you to you on our website. Glove is in the air!
FUTURE GLOVER: Mi! Mi! Mi! -- Want a glove but not right now? Sadly, the number of Kickstarter gloves is limited, but we hope to make more in future. Use this pledge to support development and you'll be first in line to buy the Mi.Mu gloves before they are available to the general public. You will also receive the download link to the Streemliner single of Me The Machine. Can't help falling in glove!
MUSIC LOVER -- Get the CD single of Me The Machine (Imogen's first glove song), signed by Imogen Heap herself, the Streemliner download, and a big shout-out on our website, listing you as a rugged maverick helping to stretch the envelope of how music is made.
REMIXER -- You will get full studio quality stems from the single, Me The Machine (Imogen's first glove song), as well as the Streemliner featured in the earlier pledges. Post your remix or cover online for a chance to be featured by Imogen on her website.
ALL BUT GLOVE - All of the non-glove pledges together in one: the Streemliner, the signed CD, the Me the Machine stems, and all Backer Benefits*, plus first in line to buy Mi.Mu gloves before they are available to the general public. Gimme all your glovin’.
NAKED GLOVE [Single] - one textiles glove minus electronics and all Backer Benefits*. Perhaps you have your own electronics, you want to make a fashion statement, or you have cold hands. Either way, all you need is glove.
WORKSHOP GLOVER - 3-day Mi.Mu-led workshop (attended in person in London, or virtually) to build your own glove, either from the kit (see KIT GLOVER) or from scratch (with your own components, as described at www.theglovesproject.com). Or, just come along for a special opportunity to have a go and Feel the gLove! Kits/materials not included, but all Backer Benefits* are!
GLOVE MAKER (KIT) - everything you need to make a complete and functioning Mi.Mu glove: textiles, electronics and tutorials, plus all Backer Benefits*. You’ll need to be a relatively confident maker - soldering skills required. Feel like makin’ glove?
SINGLE GLOVER --You will receive a single Mi.Mu Glove. This can be combined with our software (which will be available for free download) to map musical gestures to musical control signals (e.g. MIDI). These signals can be listened to by many types of music software, e.g. Ableton Live, Logic Pro or Max/MSP. You will be able to choose either a left or right glove before your glove is shipped.
We invite you to join us in development and to play a key role in shaping the final glove design. You will receive a prototype pair of gloves (with a choice of colour) within the first few months. We then want to integrate your feedback with hardware/software upgrades as the design evolves. If possible, we'd love to meet you and really understand your glove needs. Once the final gloves are ready, we will upgrade your prototypes to the final version! Special bonus: you will get a retail copy of Spectrasonics Omnisphere synth configured with their custom glove patches!