Is it a commissioned art/research project? What was the specific scientific/artistic/commercial goal for the project development?
The initial goal of the development of the DataGlove was to play “air guitar”, that is an input device for a person to mimic the actions of playing a guitar, and through the use of a computer, actually hear guitar music in response to gestures in the air.
What is the innovative aspect of the project or your particular research interest?
The concept of using the instrumented hand as an input device into a simulated 3D world.
When was the project developed and realised and with how many people?
The original development team included Tom Zimmerman, Jaron Lanier, Chuck Blanchard, Steve Bryson, and Young Harvill.
Authors and participants (names, professions/studies, functions, institutes). At the time of development (1985-1987) we were all at VPL Research, a company formed to develop Virtual Reality technology and applications. All of the principle developers have a background computers, design and art (music and drawing).
Which particular skills and resources were necessary to realise/organise the project?
Combination of hardware, software and design. We also needed a business structure that could keep the money coming in while provide the time and space to do product development.
How was the project financed and what were the overall costs?
Some initial investors, and by selling DataGlove systems at $15k each.
Who were the customers and partners of the project?
Many research labs including government, industry and academic.
How often and in which context has the project been presented?
The popular press picked up on the concept of Virtual Reality due in large part to Jaron Lanier’s tremendous capacity to captive an audience with his vision. This provided a superior substitute for expensive advertising and marketing.
What was the reaction to your project and what findings and consequences came about from the evaluation of your project?
We basically created (bootstrapped) the field of Virtual Reality (VR).
What do think does the recipient learn about the relationship between digital and physical space?
Machines are an extension of humans. Just as the paint brush or chisel is an extension of a painter or sculptor, computer input devices become extensions of our intention expressed through our computing tools.
Did you expand or update the project afterwards?
As far as using a DataGlove for a musical input device, I learned that physical feedback (something to hold, pluck, strum, grab) is vital for developing subtle expression and playing technique, so I went on to work with physical controllers for musical input devices.
Do you know about similar projects?
Many people have worked on VR since our work in 1985-1990.