Imogen Heap Wi-Fi gloves get connectivity boost from Bristol undergrad
Student Simon Rankine ruggedised the Wi-Fi link
Scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of West England claim they have improved the performance of a pair of Wi-Fi gloves used by popstar Imogen Heap.
In Heap's experimental live music performances, the gloves need to be able to cope with interference that arises when there are hundreds of Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones in the audience.
With the help of US networking firm Broadcom, the research team modified a Wi-Fi access point to allow the use of high-gain directional antennas and ultimately reduce interference.
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Andrew Nix, professor of wireless communication systems and head of the department of electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Bristol, told Techworld: “This project really caught our imagination."
Much of the project work was carried out last summer by Simon Rankine, an electronics and communications engineering undergraduate student.
Nix said: "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.
"We performed a number of interference tests and confirmed the uplink from the gloves to the access point maintained a successful stream even in the presence of numerous devices attempting to interfere."
The paper documenting the research, entitled “Making the Most of Wi-Fi: Optimisations for Robust Wireless Live Music Performance”, was presented at the 14th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression [NIME 2014] in London this week.
Meanwhile, the enhanced musical gloves were used during a live performance by Imogen Heap on Tuesday night at a concert to open the conference.
The researchers now want 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.
Image credit: Imogen Heap