Power Glove Makes Music With The Wave Of A Hand

Kristen French | Popular Mechanics | April 11, 2014

Backed by singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, the Mi.Mu gloves allow the wearer to manipulate sound in almost limitless ways.

Forget the theremin—now you can make science fiction-sounding music just by waving your arms in the air.

London-based singer-songwriter Imogen Heap has designed a pair of digital gloves that allow her to perform elaborate otherworldly symphonies by sculpting the air with her hands. For the past four years she has worked with a team of engineers and designers, including scientists from NASA and MIT, to create the sleek e-textile gloves, which are full of chips and sensors. The gloves allow the wearer to remotely manipulate recorded sound and musical tracks by waving the arms, pointing the fingers, making a fist, rotating the wrists, or air drumming an entire virtual drum kit.

Now Heap and her team want to make the gloves, called Mi.Mu, available to other musicians and performers. They launched a Kickstarter campaign last month that would fund development of ten pairs of gloves and make the technology open-source. Individual musicians will be able to program the gloves to translate movement into sound in ways that feel most intuitive to them by mapping these movements onto music writing software such as Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic Pro, or Max MSP—basically, anything programmed to use common digital music languages such as MIDI or Open Sound Control.