Sound Gloves

photo taken by Y-J Lin.

Our project, Sound Gloves (2011), initiated with a goal to create a sound performance that explore the ideas of movement space, performance space, performer gesture, and performer-audience interactions. This project results with three different pairs of gloves musical instruments, Touch Sound Gloves, Castanet Gloves, and Theremin Gloves.

The electronic parts in Sound Gloves are used in simple configurations. The parts include piezos, accelerometer sensors, ultrasonic range finder sensors, potentiometers, thin speakers, LilyPad, Polymer Lithium Ion batteries, 3-volt Lithium coin cell batteries, audio power amplifier circuits with LM368, and conductive threads. The use of conductive threads caused too much resistance to power, thus wire was replaced instead of conductive threads for the connection between the amplifier and the speakers.

The first public performance, Sound Gloves Impro 1, was presented in Muu Gallery. This performance was organised as a structured improvisation for three performers, who were also project members involved throughout the design process. After the performance, all three performers felt very engaged in the performance. The freedom to able to walk around into the audience area, allowed direct physical interaction with the audience. The performers were able to make eye contact and exchange smiles with the audience. These small connections somehow made the performance experience more inviting and engaging. Future works considered include exploring other techniques to improve the sound aspect.

Sound Gloves – WIP

We have been working on the gloves project this week and made some progress. First, we sewed the conductive thread to the inner fabric layer of the gloves, and soldered the amps onto the circuit boards (after failing twice, we got it right on the 3rd time). After that we tested the connection between the thread on the layer and the i/o of the circuit. Finally, we started sewing the circuit and the connections onto the inner layer.

The sound produced with thread connections was not as loud as wire connections, although the thread was quite short there’s still some resistances that reduced the amplitude.

A lot of discussions and thinkings took place before sewing the conductive thread. For example, for the piezo pair, there were 13 thread lines that went into the circuit board. This was one of the major challenges as the space on the back of the gloves was limited, so we needed to carefully plan the placement of the thread to avoid crossing that would cause unwanted connections.

We have also got some ideas and progress to embed the small speakers in simple but nice looking resonators. More pictures will be added later. Here is one early version:

Sewing components

I was talking with Carmen about how to attach the piezo elements to the sound gloves, and we were trying to remember the name of an embroidery technique used to attach mirrors to saris.  Well, it turns out it’s “Indian Mirror Stitch” (duh) or “Shisha Stitch”.

Here it is in one of my projects:

Google “shisha stitch” and you’ll find all sorts of instructions and variations.

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Sound Gloves – ideas

Illustration by Carmen

For our project, we would like to develop a wearable musical instrument, Sound Gloves, which embeds an arduino lilypad, a speaker, a piezo, some electronics and sensors in a pair of gloves. To make music, simply wear the gloves and move hands in the air in certain ways or position hands in contact with different materials or surfaces. Our concept for this work is to present it in a performance context where all group members (Carmen, Minna, Chi-Hsia) wear these gloves and move around in the performance space to interact with each other and with the audience. The proposed idea of embedding all components on the gloves will not only enables the performer to walk around freely (not constrained to cables), but it will also allow the sound we make to travel in space, in which each performer will be more than a performer, as she also becomes a sound object.

Why Gloves?
• Input/Out all embedded on the gloves
• Flexible, easy to wear and take off
• Interaction:
Natural movements for hands and arms
– Hands distance
– Position hands in contact with different materials, surfaces, objects
With the audience – distance and contact
3 Pairs Gloves -> 3 Instruments
1.Continuous   (theremin)
lilypad, distance sensor
2.Rhythmic   (castanet)
lilypad, switch (conductive threads), accelerometer sensor
3. Amplified sound
piezo (as contact microphone)
Speaker + Amplifier: LN386N (5k resistor, 3.7V)