Bristol researchers enhance the performance of Imogen Heap's musical gloves

July 3, 2014
Bristol researchers enhance the performance of Imogen Heap's musical gloves

Wireless technology is becoming increasingly common in live musical performances but the technology is prone to interference, which can affect a live concert. A research team have demonstrated the potential Wi-Fi has to offer for live performances and specifically for the musical gloves used by the artist Imogen Heap.

The research was a joint collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). The team, led by Professor Andrew Nix, Dr Thomas Mitchell and Sebastian Madgwick, have improved the performance of a pair of Wi-Fi gloves that are famously used by Imogen Heap in her on-stage performances.

The paper, entitled "Making the Most of Wi-Fi: Optimisations for Robust Wireless Live Music Performance", will be presented at the 14th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression [NIME 2014] in London today [Wednesday 2 July]. The enhanced musical gloves were used during a live performance by Imogen Heap last night at a concert to open the conference.

The researchers were asked to develop the musical gloves by making the Wi-Fi link as robust and reliable as possible. A Wi-Fi link in a live performance situation must be able to cope with interference from an audience that may include hundreds of Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones.

Simon Rankine, a MEng Electronics and Communications Engineering undergraduate student, worked on the problem last summer. Using support from Broadcom, the research team modified a Wi-Fi access point to allow the use of high-gain directional antennas. The researchers also showed how the link can be improved by modifying a number of Medium Access Control (MAC) parameters. Details of this work can be found in the paper.

Andrew Nix, Professor of Wireless Communication Systems and Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: "We have a world-leading Wi-Fi research group at Bristol and this project really caught our imagination. With help from Broadcom, Simon was able to modify a standard access point to ruggedise the link to and from Imogen's Wi-Fi gloves. It's fantastic to see one of our undergraduate students contributing so strongly to our research output."

In future work, the researchers propose to rigorously evaluate the complete system (network infrastructure and antenna) in the context of 'real-world' performance scenarios. In particular, the research team are interested in examining the use of a Wi-Fi interface device called x-OSC as an enabling technology for collaborative live performance using a wireless sensor network.

Explore further: Free Wi-Fi approved at New York City's airports

More information: "Making the Most of Wi-Fi: Optimisations for Robust Wireless Live Music Performance," Thomas Mitchell, Sebastian Madgwick, Simon Ramkine, Geoffrey Hilton, Adrian Free, Andrew Nix, NIME 2014, June 30-July 03 2014, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

Related Stories

High court rejects Google appeal in snooping case

June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court has declined to hear Google's appeal of a ruling that it pried into people's online lives through their Wi-Fi systems as part of its drive to collect information for its Street View mapping project.

US coalition calls for expansion of Wi-Fi airwaves

February 13, 2014

A newly formed coalition of US technology firms and advocacy groups called Thursday for the expansion of Wi-Fi, saying airwaves are getting congested for a key pathway to the Internet.

Recommended for you

'Droneboarding' takes off in Latvia

January 22, 2017

Skirted on all sides by snow-clad pine forests, Latvia's remote Lake Ninieris would be the perfect picture of winter tranquility—were it not for the huge drone buzzing like a swarm of angry bees as it zooms above the solid ...

Singapore 2G switchoff highlights digital divide

January 22, 2017

When Singapore pulls the plug on its 2G mobile phone network this year, thousands of people could be stuck without a signal—digital have-nots left behind by the relentless march of technology.

Making AI systems that see the world as humans do

January 19, 2017

A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand ...

Firms push hydrogen as top green energy source

January 18, 2017

Over a dozen leading European and Asian firms have teamed up to promote the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel and cut the production of harmful gasses that lead to global warming.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.