For today’s installment of our Kickstart This! series I have just one word for you: Gloving. Okay, I’m going to need more words.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “gloving” refers to a style of performance that involves placing microlights (tiny LEDs) in the fingertips of white gloves, and literally using your hands to dance to the beat of the music, creating an intimate and visually captivating lightshow. As it stands right now, a set of gloves requires several components (LEDs, casings, diffusers, gloves, etc.), and a lot of assembly. This can be a little intimidating to new glovers, and the lights involved don’t offer a lot of options for colors and modes. Plus, there’s that whole “ten separate tiny batteries” thing. Enter Travis “Luceo” Ladner’s Infiny Gloves, now available on Kickstarter.
Infiny Gloves is a brand new type of pre-wired glove, which allows the wearer to pre-program dozens of LED modes directly into the lights via a USB interface. Gone are the days when you had to purchase new lights for different modes, and the rechargeable lithium ion battery means you never have to change the ones in your lights again. In addition to the programmable/rechargeable aspect, Infiny Gloves also allow you to switch between colors and modes quickly and easily, a feature not readily available with standard microlights. “Back when gloving first started to appear, the idea of being able to display any color and mode seemed cool. During the time of ‘freehand lightshows’ being able to change colors or modes along with music gave a powerful effect,” says Ladner. “Oddly enough, making light changes is rarely seen with gloving nowadays. You have so many lights on your hand that it is harder to make fast impacting light changes. So, I decided to bring some of the old back and mash it up with the new.”
Although the design and functionality of the gloves themselves makes them a valuable asset to the world of gloving, perhaps the most amazing thing about the project is that it is far from a solo effort. While they are very much the brainchild of Ladner, and he works directly with a partner for most of the programming, he has opened the project up to the community with great success. “At first I was unsure if we should keep the development secret, but opening up and sharing the idea with everyone has returned more support, direction, and interest that I thought … If we had kept this project a secret, I don’t think it would be half of what it is now.”
The community input is actually one of the things that drew Ladner to Kickstarter in the first place. “I think Kickstarter is a natural fit for our model of open development and interactive design. I’m a big believer in refining an idea before you produce it, and no one, including myself, or our customers, should waste their effort on a product that hasn’t been fully discussed or developed.” The Infiny Gloves campaign on the crowdfunding site has already received an impressive amount of attention, reaching their 50% mark with just under two weeks to go, but that doesn’t mean raising money this way has been easy. According to Ladner, the crowdfunding method does more than just gauge interest in their product, and allow them to produce a first offering. It also forces them to produce a better product. “The restrictions of being such a small team, with little funding, and limited resources … it really forces you to spend money only on the right things, and at the right time. Had someone handed us $30,000 a year ago… we would have built a poor product with little testing, no feedback, and made all the wrong choices.”
And they are prepared to reward those people who are helping them out with their first run of the product. As a backer on the Kickstarter campaign, you can purchase one of the very first pairs of Infiny Gloves, which will be specially made just for their supporters. “We’re going to hold a vote for everyone who pledges, to see what color they want the plastic casing for the device to have. We’ll never use the color again for future products, and everyone will know you were an original founder/supporter of the idea.”
Ladner hopes to take Infiny Gloves farther than just this one product, and has actually expressed an interest in finding new ways to integrate electronics with clothing of all types. One thing is for certain, he is passionate about his product, and the community for whom he created it, regardless of the success or failure of this Kickstarter campaign. “Receiving input and encouragement from glovers all around has been the biggest driving force behind why this project has got to where it is today. We have no intentions of abandoning that commitment, and definitely can’t wait to see what they give back to us,” he said, adding, “I’m grinning in anticipation of what everyone will create once they get a chance to play with their gloves. The shows they might develop, and the impact that it may have on the growing world of gloving, is something that I’m truly excited to witness!”
For more information, or to contribute to the campaign, check out Infiny Gloves on Kickstarter.