UWE Music Research Developed into Commercial Mi.Mu Gloves

Issue date: 10 December 2014

Mi.Mu gloves, left and right hands.

The first commercially available Mi.Mu Gloves, based on original research by an academic from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), will be delivered to end-users at an official launch event this Friday, which will mark a significant transition from musician-computer interaction research and development to high-tech consumer product.

Dr Tom Mitchell, a senior lecturer in the department of Computer Science and Creative Technologies, has been working with the start-up Mi.Mu, which was formed earlier this year in order to develop the work into a sophisticated glove-based composition and performance system appropriate for use by technology-savvy musicians.

Dr Mitchell said, “Collaborating with Mi.Mu and helping to develop this research into a product has been a remarkable experience. The talented team of musicians, designers and technologists have elegantly managed the interdisciplinary challenges faced when developing wearable technology for the arts. The project also represents a fantastic example of knowledge exchange between academia and the creative economy. I am genuinely excited to see and hear what the first Mi.Mu glove users will be able to do with the technology that we have developed.”

Kelly Snook, one of the technical directors at Mi.Mu, says, “This is an exciting time for Mi.Mu, as we move from a single-user bespoke project to a wider and more diverse user base, enabling both continued research and the possibility of transforming how digital music and art are created.`'

The Mi.Mu Gloves incorporate a range of motion sensors that enable musicians to compose and perform entirely with hand gestures. Since the debut of the system at TED Global in 2011 by musician and Mi.Mu founder Imogen Heap, the gloves have featured in a host of demonstrations and performances, including Wired, the AHRC's Digital Transformations Moot, Dara O'Brien's Science Club, Reverb Festival, Wear It Festival and Ars Electronica.

Dr Mitchell, continued, “Each appearance of the system would provoke a wave of interest and requests from musicians asking when they would be able to get a pair of their own. It's fantastic that we are able to talk about this prospect realistically.”

Dr Mitchell initially developed the gloves with Imogen Heap after winning a UWE Bristol SPUR grant for early career researchers. Following on, he continued to fine tune the technology in collaboration with a Bristol embedded technologies company, x-io Technologies, who developed a key component of the gloves called x-OSC, with support from the Microeletronics INets, a European Regional Development Fund led by UWE Bristol.

The development team has grown dramatically over the last few years and includes; Kelly Snook – former NASA scientist, engineer and musician; Seb Madgewick – engineer and director of x-io Technologies; Hannah Permer-Wilson – a futuristic DIY e-textile expert; Adam Stark – researcher, computer scientist and musician; Rachel Freire – designer and artist specialising in leather and stretch materials.

This initial run of Mi.Mu Gloves will go to fifteen individuals who were lucky enough to snap up a pair when they went on sale earlier this year. Future, releases will be announced via the Mi.Mu website.

To follow the story from its initial inception, please visit the UWE Bristol news pages.

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