If Hands Could Sing

If Hands Could Sing

School of Music | Faculty of Arts
Share Story Related Content Add to my report

While many people talk with their hands, so to speak, a team of UBC professors has now made it possible to talk—or rather, sing—through a pair of gloves.

Developed by a team led by Sidney Fels, in the department of electrical and computer engineering and Robert Pritchard, a researcher at the UBC Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) and the UBC Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC), the technology, called a digital ventriloquist actor (DIVA), produces a singing voice when manually activated by a hand moving within electrically wired gloves. The motion-sensing gloves create a frequency based on their position; the right hand controls vowels (an open hand), and consonants (a closed hand), while the height of the hand determines the pitch. Meanwhile, the left hand controls stop consonants like Bs and Ds.

“From a compositional perspective, what I’m interested in is expanding the tools available to provide an emotional experience in the concert hall,” says Pritchard, in an interview with Gizmodo. “We’re able to give one person two voices. So they can do a duet with themselves.”

Future uses for the device could involve giving people with speech impairments the ability to speak without sign language or an interpreter.


Related Content

Sidney Fels (left) and Bob Pritchard (center) testing the DIVA Harness Credit: Johnty Wang

“We’re able to give one person two voices. So they can do a duet with themselves.” – Robert Pritchard, UBC Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) and UBC Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre

Associated Commitment

Research Excellence

Associated Campus

Vancouver Campus


RT @MusicCentreBC: Beautiful tribute to Jocelyn Morlock from @musiconmain's David Pay today - https://t.co/ppgqCYmDJd
about 15 hours ago.
Plans tonight? Join us 7:30pm at the @ChanCentre for the last performance from UBC Choirs this season! Tickets FREE… https://t.co/6iMAzNnluw
about 15 hours ago.
RT @UBC: Today is Trans Day of Visibility. Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion, recognizes trans leadership at…
about 17 hours ago.
Today at noon join us for the #UBC Contemporary Players as they perform music from internationally acclaimed compos… https://t.co/5NDfghIPxZ
about 22 hours ago.
A huge congratulations to #UBC Music PhD Candidate, Oscar Smith for receiving a UBC Killam Graduate Teaching Assist… https://t.co/eYF0C3kHih
1 day ago.
RT @musiconmain: In memoriam Jocelyn Morlock (1969-2023). Her music, essays, and programming displayed intelligence. Her wit and love of n…
1 day ago.
RT @AToddLegacy: Jocelyn was able to see through Amanda’s tragic story, (mental health & cyber harassment) to find hope and resonance 🕊️🎼…
1 day ago.
This tribute to Jocelyn was lovely. Please listen if you can. https://t.co/LmeetxFPe0
1 day ago.
The impact that Jocelyn Morlock has made on our School, students and music community is immeasurable. We will miss… https://t.co/f8hJUT6xrN
3 days ago.
Last UBC Symphony Orchestra of the season! @Jonathan_Girard conductor Special guest Jose Franch-Ballester, clari… https://t.co/Pg4nVjD3eR
4 days ago.