Conversational Gloves




This is what came out of my attempt at combining some of my favorite tools and themes...Grasshopper, 3D printing, kinetic motion, and linguistics. I put these gloves on my friends, asked them to tell me a story, and used Grasshopper to record the data from their hand gestures. While these gloves are far from precise instruments, they still produced some interesting forms which I later 3d printed.

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Step 1: Grasshopper Script

I used the Firefly add-on in order to receive input from Arduino and Kinect in Grasshopper. Two Arduino Megas track finger positions and hand rotation while a Kinect tracks each hand's movement through space.

Step 2: Specifics

Three dimensional shapes were made in Grasshopper by extruding a pentagon through space. Each vertex on the pentagon corresponds with a finger. The more a finger is bent, the further the vertex moves inward. The accelerometer on the back of the hand controls the overall rotation of the polygon. Of course, the accelerometers are not meant to know their spatial position so the resulting geometry is very much an abstraction of the gesture and not a completely accurate representation.

Step 3:

In the above picture, I bend my pointer finger. As a result, the Y value from the accelerometer decreases, and so does the radius value of the corresponding vertex, causing it to move inward. A similar effect happens with the other fingers (as shown below).

Step 4:

Step 5:

Step 6:

Step 7:

As the participant gestures with his hands, the Kinect tracks the location of his wrist and moves the polygon along with it. I used a buffer so Grasshopper remembers previous frames and can loft multiple polygons together to show motion over time. The loft also changes color according to speed, but of course, this does not matter for the final 3d prints as they are colorless.

Step 8:

Step 9:

This was a quicker motion, so the loft changed to a warmer color.

Step 10:

Step 11: 3d Prints.

These are two of the better examples of gestures I printed. I imported the gestural geometry into 3DS Max in order to shell them and give them volume. Then I smoothed their edges in Z Brush. The gestures were printed on an UP 3D Printer.

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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is awesome! What did you use for the sensors on the hands / fingers? Working on a similar data glove.

    Mexi Manatee

    5 years ago

    This is totally amazing! Such a neat idea!


    This is awesome, I would love to feature this project, mind including some more text explaining what is happening in your steps 3-10?


    Aurdrey Community Manager

    1 reply

    I would be honored if you featured my project. I added some more text...Please let me know if anything needs further explanation. Thanks so much!


    5 years ago

    fantastic idea
    reminded me of a movie where deaf girl wanted to become a ballerine, while performing really good in night clubs as a dance battle'r she couldn't enter ballet classes. And then a guy invented a cool audiovisual installation which interpreted her gestures into a sound )


    5 years ago

    Possibility of a sign language vocalizations?