Imogen Heap wearing wi-fi glovesA team of researchers from UWE Bristol and Bristol University have collaborated on a project to improve a pair of Wi-Fi gloves used by Imogen Heap and other artists in their live performances.

Dr Thomas Mitchell, Professor Andrew Nix and Sebastian Madgwick led the team, who presented their paper, ‘Making the Most of Wi-Fi: Optimisations for Robust Wireless Live Music Performance’ at the 14th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME 2014) on 2 July.

Imogen Heap used the gloves in a live performance to open the conference. The gloves were developed by the team for reliable and robust performance in real-life situations. The Wi-Fi link will have to function in situations where hundreds of audience’s smartphones will potentially create interference.

You can watch Imogen performing with the gloves designed by University of Bristol and UWE last year in the video below (the demonstration begins at 7:20):

Taking on the gauntlet

Electronics and Communications Engineering undergraduate student Simon Rankine worked on the gloves in summer 2013. The research team then modified an access point to support the use of high-gain directional antennas, with support from Broadcom. In the paper, the researchers also demonstrated that the link to the gloves can be improved through modifying Medium Access Control (MAC) parameters.

“We have a world-leading Wi-Fi research group at Bristol and this project really caught our imagination”


Professor Andrew Nix 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.”


Josh Ryall