Gloves with integrated sensors, adding various functions to the finger tips have surfaced over the past few years in large numbers but to my amazement I found a sensory enhanced glove, created by Laetitia Sonami, a composer, performer and sound installation artist back in 1991!
Created for a performance at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria her Lady’s Glove must be the first glove featuring integrated sensors on such an advanced level for the use as musical performance enhancing instrument.
In 1994 the Lady’s Glove got a major upgrade from Bert Bongers to enhanced the look and performance.
The Lady’s Glove version 2 has five Hall effect transducers glued at the tip of the fingers and a magnet on the right hand: by touching the fingers on the magnet, signals were generated and fed to a electronic which converted them to MIDI signals.
Resistive strips, taken from an early gaming glove by Mattel, the Power glove for Nintendo NES, sewn along the fingers and wrist generate streams of data when bent. A pressure pad sewn on the inside of the index finger and an ultrasonic transmitter inside the palm, with one receiver located on the right arm and one on the left foot. This setup calculates the distance between both hands and the height of the left hand.
Additional sensors of the Lady’s Glove include five micro switches, a mercury switch on the top of the hand and an accelerometer which measuring the speed of motion of the hand.
The signals from all these sensors are send to STEIM’s Sensorlab which conditions them and convert the signals into MIDI format to feed into various synthesizers and samplers.
The intention in building such a glove was to allow movement without spatial reference (there is no need to position oneself in front or in the sight of another sensor), and to allow multiple, parallel controls.
Through gestures, the performance aspect of computer music becomes alive, sounds are «embodied», creating a new, seductive approach.
I am amazed to find such an sophisticated, sensible glove as far back as 1991/94. It seems musicians are ahead of the time when it comes to innovative, wearable instruments.