Musicians performing at a concert pull off some pretty eccentric dance routines especially their hands. This week at TEDGlobal 2011 in Edinburgh, the Grammy-award wining Imogen Heap showed that musical jazzy hands can also be used to conduct music from the air thanks to motion tracking glove technology.
A team from the University of West England led by Professor Tom Mitchell, a music technology specialist, built Heap’s gloves. They were fitted with wireless microphones, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, a gyroscope and a variety of other sensors to track her body movements and hand gestures. With every motion Heap could call for sounds from a multitude of instruments and effects and create a song on the fly.
The sensors on the gloves send the movement data back to a computer that compiles and writes a piece of music in real time. If Heap spread her arms wide it would make the sound louder, bringing them closer would make it quieter quiet, or throwing the horns would trigger a “rock out mode.”
According to Mashable, the performance was more than two and a half years in the making since Heap became interested in the project after seeing a similar technology from MIT. Researchers want to bring even more enhancements to that the gloves can capture more gestures, play more instruments like the drums, and even bring the audience in to participate in the song creation.
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